Snow Q & A

We’ve got a real winter this year, precipitation coming down left, right, and center, and entirely too many snow days for the kids. I figured I’d take this opportunity to clear up some misconceptions and provide my unique take on the weather.

Q: Is it true that Eskimos have a hundred words for snow?

A: No, of course not. They have words for where the snow is — falling, on the ground, in a snow drift — and they can add suffixes to modify these, but that’s essentially like adding an adjective in English. There are people who have multiple words for snow, beyond the obvious powdered sugar, powder, packed powder, and the like, especially in areas where snow shoveling is common and snowplows leave ridges across already shoveled driveways. These words, however, are not suitable for publication on a family-friendly blog.

Q: How much does snow weigh?

A: A shovelful of snow, two inches deep, at the start of shoveling, might weigh no more than a few ounces more than the shovel itself. By the end of a sixty-foot long, twenty-foot wide driveway, a shovelful weighs roughly thirty pounds.

Q: Is it true no two snowflakes look alike?

A: To prove this, you must first assume the opposite is true — that there are at least two snowflakes that look alike. If there are two such snowflakes, it is not true. Now, go examine all the snowflakes in the world and get back to me when you’re done.

Or you can go look at Kenneth Libbrecht’s photomicroscopy of snowflakes. There’s also some interesting information on growing designer snowflakes available on Cal Tech’s site.

Q: What about the proverbial “snowball’s chance in hell”?

A: Have you seen Hoth? If that’s not hell, I don’t know what is.

Flip side: heart-warming video of snowman sent to Bahrain. (It doesn’t last long.)

That’s all the questions I have time for today. I need to get some writing done so when the snow piles up this afternoon, I can take a break and go shovel again. Thanks for reading!

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