Tuesday, January 7, 2014

8 Things about snow (that I had no idea about!)


I grew up in Los Angeles.  Snow was something that you heard about, saw in movies, and could see resting on the mountains on a clear day.  Sometimes you might drive up to Big Bear Lake and find an icy patch of snow, but that was about it.  Snow was something that closed roads, required chains on your cars, and I didn’t have a clue how anyone lived a normal life when they had snow on the ground for half the year.  Did people in Michigan just hibernate for half the year?  I thought it was cold when the temperatures got down to 40.  Once in awhile I was in cold places, like when I lived in London briefly, but left just as the snow started falling in early December, or when I visited my relatives in South Texas in winter of 1983/4 when the highs were in single digits, but rarely was there snow.


Then I married a Yankee, and the next thing I know we’re living in Indianapolis (to me, the Great White North, to him, not nearly as snowy and cold as his college town, Edinboro PA) and I’m living in a place where it snows every year!  Sometimes a lot of snow!  And I have learned a few things to share with other warm climate people:


  1. Snow is quiet.  After growing up with becoming aware of precipitation by the sound of it falling, snow is really sneaky.  You wake up and all is quiet, you go downstairs, make some caffeine, and look out the window and WHAT IS THIS MADNESS!  Everything is white and I had no clue it was snowing!  This may seem really obvious, I mean I knew that snow doesn’t make sound as it falls, but the difference between intellectually knowing something and finally living it is quite shocking.  I’ve finally learned the sound of snowplows and when I hear it before I look out the window I know what that means. 
  2. Snow looks really fake.  You know those spray-flocked Christmas trees that were all the rage in the 70s and 80s?  They looked so fake, right?  Well, I’ve seen snow clumped on evergreens that looks exactly like that!  It boggled my mind. 
  3. Not all snow can be used to make snowmen.  You cannot make a snowman just because there is snow.  If you have dry, fluffy snow you’d have better luck trying to make a snowman out of flour.  Dry fluffy snow is good for skiing and snow angels, but for snowball fights and snowmen (or women) you need wet snow, so that it sticks to itself. 
  4. Snow is messy.  After scraping snow off my car or shoveling the walk, I come in the house and I am covered in snow.  It sticks to everything.  It doesn’t dust off, it has to melt off.  And if you walk through your house without shedding your outer layers and shoes you will leave a trail of wet everywhere.  Really fun.  Not to mention that the stuff that road crews put on the road makes your car really disgusting.  All that road salt gets mixed in with the snow and melt, and gets thrown into the air and before you know it your car looks like it’s been spray painted white from the bottom up.
  5. You will drive in it.  Without chains or snow tires.  When you live in a place that snows every year, the road crews do a pretty decent job clearing the streets and highways.  They have trucks with snow blades that push the snow off the road, and brine mixtures and salt to help the snow melt.  In fact, most of the winter driving is a lot like driving the rest of the year.  Just colder.  When the streets haven’t been cleared it’s a mess, but then you drive slow, or stay home, and the thing you really learn to fear is ice.
  6. It can be TOO COLD to snow.  I thought my husband was kidding when he told me this, but I’ve come to find it can in fact be the case.  Snow happens when the temperatures are below freezing (usually) but happens less often as the temperatures get down even lower, like down towards zero.  As the skies clear after snowstorms, the insulation of clouds disappears and the temperatures drop.  Note that I am in no way a meteorologist, so this is likely not precise, but believe me, when it’s really cold it’s less likely to be snowing.
  7. Snow is dirty.  The snow as it falls is all soft and pretty… and after it’s been trampled in and driven on and shoveled in a parking lot and pooed on by squirrels… it’s so filthy you just can’t even imagine.  Yuck.
  8. After the snow melts is even dirtier.  All the trash that accumulates over the course of winter comes to light in spring and it is disgusting!  People toss trash in snow like it’s a giant trash dumpster, and it goes … nowhere!  So once the snow melts the side of the road looks like it’s a snowfall of trash. 

Pretty, huh?  Just wait...
So there you go, people of the sun, the fun facts about snow that those people who live in it have no clue you don’t know anything about.  My husband still laughs when I tell him these things with wide eyes, but he had no clue about earthquakes, so I think we’re pretty even.