Let It Snow — and Snow, and Snow
By Tom Long and Stacy Milbouer
Fiddlehead Contributing Editors
Remember the winter when snow was piled so high at the end of the driveway there was no place to put any more? How about the year we only got a couple of light dustings and the snow blower never left the garage?
Let’s face it, snow is the element that defines the season. Love it or hate it, the white stuff — or the lack thereof — is the way we judge this time of year. Here’s something to think about while the white stuff piles up.
Despite decades of claims to the contrary, every snowflake is not unique. In 1988, a scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research found two identical snow crystals, similar results have been produced in laboratories around the world.
Whose turn was it to shovel?
Mile 47 Camp in Alaska, northeast of Valdez, recorded 78 inches of snow in the 24 hours ending on Feb. 9, 1963, a record for one day of snow.
The New Hampshire record for snow fall in 24 hours is 49.3 inches on the summit of Mount Washington on Feb. 25, 1969.
The name game
Some claim that the Inuit, or Eskimos, have 100 words for snow, but it’s a bit of an exaggeration. Inuit of Canada’s Nunavut region have 53, including “matsaaruti” for wet snow and “pukka” for powder snow the consistency of salt.
But the prize goes to the Sami people of northern Scandinavia, who have 180 words related to snow and ice. Linguists claim they also have 1,000 words for reindeer in various conditions.
Dread a snowy commute?
Afraid of snow? It’s called chionophobia. Symptoms include cold sweats, cravings and panic attacks.
It takes one to know one…
To call a person who is overly sensitive or feels entitled to special consideration a “snowflake” has become so common it was added to Oxford English Dictionary in 2018. The slang use of the term once had positive connotations and was used to describe a child with unique potential or personality. That changed when it was used as an insult in the 1996 film “Fight Club” and is attributed to Chuck Palahniuk, who wrote the book on which the movie was based.
Snow day rituals
There are at least four guaranteed ways to conjure a snow day and get school cancelled: put your pajamas on inside out, brush your teeth with the opposite hand, flush six ice cubes down the toilet or sleep with a spoon under your pillow.
Seasonal sayings of unknown origin
“A snowman is the perfect man. He’s very well-rounded and comes with his own broom.”
“Snowflakes are like kisses from heaven.”
“Snowmen fall from heaven, unassembled.”
But who’s counting?
It has been estimated that each winter at least one septillion snowflakes fall from the sky. That’s one with 24 zeros.
Sleigh rides are so yesterday
The snowmobile museum in Bear Brook State Park in Allenstown houses a collection of snow machines in a building at the former Depression Era Civilian Conservation Corps. The collection includes a 1918 Lombard Log Hauler that was New Hampshire’s first snowmobile, and a Model-T converted to a snow machine by Virgil White, who coined and patented the name “Snowmobile.”
It’s not just a drink at DQ
According to the National Weather Service, in order to be named a blizzard a storm must have sustained winds of 35 mph or more for at least three hours or more and visibility must be reduced to less than a quarter of a mile by snow for the same period.
The odd odds
The highest chance of having a day of just snow in Dover without sleet or rain, is on Jan. 6 according to the Weather Spark website, weatherspark.com.
Some enchanted evening
“The first fall of snow is not only an event, it is magical. You go to bed in one kind of a world and wake up in another, quite different, and if this is not enchantment, then where its it to be found?” wrote British novelist J.B. Priestly
Beware the snows of March
The month with the greatest range of snow amounts on Mount Washington is March when snowfalls as high as 60.5 inches and a low as 32.4 inches have been recorded.
There was a law against it
In 1992, the common council in Syracuse, N.Y., the lower 48’s snowiest major city, made a desperate attempt to limit snowfall and decreed that any more snow before Christmas Eve was illegal. It didn’t work. It snowed two days later.
White as snow?
Snow is translucent and reflects more than 90 percent of the light that reaches its surface — that’s why it looks white.
Have a ball
The biggest snowball fight on record was in Saskatoon, Canada, where 7,681 participants cold-cocked handmade projectiles on Jan. 31, 2016.
We’re above average
New Hampshire averages 67 inches of snow per year — 41 inches more than the average in the United States.
Snow is a mineral
The National Snow and Ice Data Center identifies snow as a mineral because “it is a naturally occurring homogenous solid, inorganically formed with a definite chemical composition and ordered atomic arrangement.”
Do you hear what I hear?
Freshly fallen snow absorbs sound and dampens noises, but later, after it has melted a little and frozen to a hard crust, it reflects sound and allows sound to be heard more clearly and to travel farther.
Snow is a great insulator
Igloos made of snow and warmed only by body heat may be as much as 100 degrees warmer inside than outside.
How many angels can you fit on the head of a pin?
Nova Scotia holds the record for the most snow angels made simultaneously. On Feb. 7, 2011, 22,000 uplifting snow depressions were made in 130 locations. The most snow angels made in one location were 8,962 made in Bismarck, N.D., on Feb. 17, 2007.
Not exactly the speed of light
Most snowflakes fall at one to four miles per hour and take around an hour to reach the ground.
Wilson Alwyn Bentley of Jericho, Vt., is reputed to be the first to photograph a snowflake. Bentley, aka “Snowflake,” became fascinated with the ice crystals as a teenager on his family’s farm. He found it difficult to capture the tiny crystals before they melted, but eventually, after a lot of failed experiments, attached a bellows camera to a compound microscope and photographed his first snowflake on Jan. 15, 1885.
Frosty may be older than you think
Bob Eckstein, author of “The History of the Snowman,” found a snowman depicted in a drawing in an illuminated manuscript created in 1380 and stored in the “Koninklijke Bibliotheek” in The Hague.
Oh brother, where art snow?
Speaking of which, last March, two Derry brothers created Jerry, a two-story snowperson, with painted paper plates for buttons.