The temperature is getting colder and colder these days in northern hemisphere, it means that winter is going to come in no time. Well, talking about winter means we are talking about snow because this is the season when snow is coming.
Maybe you are already familiar with the little ice crystals, but do you know that it is not always coming in that tiny size? Back in January 28, 1987 people from Fort Keogh, Montanta, USA found a huge snowflake in a size of 15 inches wide and 8 inches thick!
And do you know who was the first to start snowflake photography? If you think it was a professional photographer or a scientist, you are wrong. It was a farmer with high curiosity of snow named Wilson Bentley. He started it in 1885 and collected more than 5000 pictures of snowflakes.
Are you surprised with the size of the snowflake? Or loving the fact about Wilson Bentley and his photography? Those are not the only amazing facts about it. There are many other surprising facts, and in this article, we are going to give you some amazing facts about snow. Keep on reading.
1. Snow Is Not White
Your first impression waking up after it is snowing in the night is a clear white view outside the house. This may make you think that the color of snowflakes is white. The fact is, it is not, snowflakes are actually clear and colorless.
National Snow and Ice Data Center explained that the white color is obtained through efficient light reflection of sunlight. “What little sunlight is absorbed by snow is absorbed uniformly over the wavelengths of visible light thus giving snow its white appearance,” they explained.
It means the number of snowflakes is countless and each of the clear surfaces reflects sunlight that comes over its surface. Because of the amount of sunlight absorbed by each snowflake is so little, the pile of snow then gives us the reflection of almost perfect white light spectrum from the sun.
Why we don’t see it like a pile of solid clear water? Because of the surface of each snowflake is so complex and it spread the light into every direction of the pile. It makes a mirror maze for the sunlight that try to escape the pile and that’s why the color looks white, as the real visible color of sunlight.
2. Even Sometimes It Appears In Colors
Yes, sometimes snow will appear in other colors like blue and pink. Usually in deeper snow like in the icebergs or south and north poles, it may appear blue. This is an advanced absorption and reflection process like what mentioned above.
In denser and bigger pile, the process of sunlight reflection takes longer time than smaller and less dense pile. In this longer process, some red color spectrum of sunlight is eventually absorbed by the crystal and what remains from the white light is the blue color spectrum.
It can also appear in bright pink color. In areas where cryophilic algae grow, like in polar area or alpine areas, sometimes the color of the algae will tint the surrounding snow. This phenomenon can even result in the “blood” river in polar areas.
In fact, it may appear brown and dirty, like you usually see on the street. Yes, the dirty snow means that its color can be contaminated by outside materials like dirt or other contaminates.
3. Each Snowflake Is Unique, Not
Do you still think that each snowflake is unique in its shape? Well maybe you haven’t heard about a discovery in 1988. Scientists Nancy Knight from Atmosphere Research in Colorado found out from a sample taken in Wisconsin that apparently two identical ice crystals are similar in shape.
So, if you think and heard that each snow crystal is unique, think again. With that huge number of ice crystal falling from the sky each year, isn’t it seem possible that there are at least two of them that resembles each other?
In addition, every single undamaged snowflake always has six sides. This is because the water molecules that forms the snowflake can only join together in a condition that results in six-sided ice crystal. So, it is impossible for an ice crystal to be eight-sided but it is possible to have similar twin.
4. Fear Of Snow Exists
When you were young, or even until now, each time you saw the ice crystal falling from the sky you might get overjoyed. Playing with this is a kind of excitement in that age, and even until now throwing a good quality snowball to your friend is still fun.
However, for some people, snow doesn’t bring that much fun especially for those with the phobia of snow. This kind of phobia exists and the name is chionophobia, derived from Greek words chion which means snow and phobos meaning fear.
For these people, each time they see snow they will experience horrible terror. And if they have to go out in the snow, most of them will feel detached from reality, get nausea, stomach disorders, and even depression.
5. And Snow Was A Crime
Kind of weird isn’t it? But this is a true story that happened in year 1992. In that time, the snow season in Syracuse, New York was so bad. The intensity of snowing in the area was so high it even reached more than 162 inches.
After feeling fed up with the white ice crystal pile, Syracuse Common Council passed a decree in March 1992 “on behalf of snow weary citizens”. This decree stated that “any snow that fall before Christmas Eve of 1992 is outlawed”. It is not clear to whom the decree was addressed.
Maybe that’s why nature itself didn’t get the memo and poured down more ice two days after the decree announced. Even in the following winter, nature gave more gift to the Syracuse citizens by pouring even more.
Different from Syracuse people who got fed up with the snow at that single time, people in Capracotta, Italy have to get used to it each year. The record in that area is even more surprising, 100 inches of ice crystal fell down from the sky in just 18 hours in March 2015.