Sunday, January 9, 2011

Nature's Snow Job

It’s snowing again. We had a blizzard the day after Christmas and now we’re getting another four to six inches of snow today. More is expected next week.

Snow was fun when I was a child and it meant a day off from school. Unfortunately, employers do not seem to share that same sense of wonder about snow. They expect employees to slog to their cars, make a suicidal drive to the office and commence working. And don’t be late.

Maybe if I skied, snowboarded, skated or enjoyed ice fishing, snow and cold weather would be a source of joy for me. Alas, I do none of those things, so I just consider it a cold, slippery inconvenience.

Jack Frost has his way with our backyard.
Some people think snow is worthy of study. Did you know that there is a National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC)? It’s part of the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences at the University of Colorado where they get COPIOUS amounts of snow. They study snow, ice, glaciers, frozen ground and climate. They also compile some great snow trivia, and here it is:
  • Where are the snowiest cities in the U.S.? New York. Syracuse averages 115 inches of snow per year, and Rochester averages 93 inches per year. Several less populated areas around the country receive much more snow. For instance, Mount Washington, New Hampshire, has an average annual snowfall of 260 inches, and Valdez, Alaska, averages 326 inches annually. That may be why almost nobody lives there.
  • Where has the most snow fallen for one storm in the U.S.? Almost 187 inches of snow fell in seven days on Thompson Pass, Alaska, in February 1953. That is serious hot cocoa country.
  • How long do snowstorms typically last? Each year an average of 105 snow-producing storms affect the continental U.S. A typical storm will have a snow-producing lifetime of two to five days and will bring snow to portions of several states. Sadly, one of those states is mine.
  • Is there any part of the U.S. that has never had a snowfall? Practically every location in the U.S. has seen snowfall. Even most portions of southern Florida have seen a few snow flurries. That is karmic payback for my gloating brother, who lives in Florida and likes to recite the temperatures there when it is freezing up here in New Jersey.
  • Does snow serve any purpose aside from being great for winter sports and snow angels? In the western U.S., mountain snow pack contributes up to 75 percent of all year-round surface water supplies. Keep that in mind if you are thinking of writing your name in snow.
The Winter Wonderland takes our two cars captive.
As I write this, I gaze out my window at the wintry white blanketing our walkway and driveway in flaky splendor. A happily sparkling scene of snow that will have to be laboriously shoveled aside before I can hop into my car and drive anywhere.

To my many more optimistic neighbors, snowflakes represent nature’s magnificent artwork, winter recreation or a refreshing change from the other three seasons. With apologies to Al Gore, to me, the white stuff is nothing more than An Inconvenient Trudge.


  1. Ah, well dear sister, I am pleased to report that last week we did have ten minutes of snow flurries. The first in several years. Quite an event it was. We all gathered, my wife, my son(who was home from his far South Florida college where such occurrences are perchance rarer), Dusty, our dog, and I. To ogle and gesticulate wildly and then, alas, it ended. Of course there was no accumulation. But we will remember it forever, or at least for a couple of weeks.

  2. I have to say, I enjoy snow a lot more now that I don't have to drive to work! Although, walking through it to get to the bus station is somewhat unpleasant.