- One town in New York got so sick of snow they passed legislation to make it illegal.
- Snowflakes come in at least 35 different shapes depending on different factors like temperature, and the myth that no two snowflakes are alike might be false.
- Scientific data is so excellent at predicting snowfall, they know from years of data whose likely to get snow on Christmas Day.
After last year’s onslaught of winter storms and some cities’ coldest winters on record, the 2018-2019 storm season is bound to be a doozy. Snowfall can be polarising when it means no school for happy kids but also dangerous driving conditions for entire towns.
Whether you’re enjoying the sunny skies in Arizona or shoveling out your driveway for the tenth day in a row in Montana, read up below on some fun facts about snow.
There are at least 35 different classifications of snowflake forms.
Some of the more classical shapes are the dendrites in “radiating,” “stellar,” or “fernlike stellar” formations, but other shapes include prisms, needles, and hollow plates. Snowflake appearances are based on many factors including temperature; you’ll find the perfect dendrites at around 5 degrees Fahrenheit (-15 degrees Celsius).
All snowflakes have six sides.
The hydrogen and oxygen molecules in the ice crystals join together to form a hexagonal structure every time.
The most snow ever recorded from a single storm in North America was 189 inches.
The Mount Shasta Ski Bowl in Northern California received 189 inches of snow, or 15.75 feet of snow, from February 13 to the 19 in 1959.
Snow is classified as a mineral.
A mineral is “a naturally occurring homogeneous solid, inorganically formed, with a definite chemical composition and an ordered atomic arrangement” according to the The National Snow & Ice Data Center. Frozen water, or ice, is naturally occurring so snow is categorized as a mineral.
“Every snowflake is unique” is a myth.
In 1988, Nancy Knight, a scientist at the National Center for Atmosphere Research in Boulder, Colorado, found two identical examples of snowflakes from a Wisconsin storm, while using a microscope.
The largest snowball fight of all time counted 7,681 people.
In Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada, on January 31, 2016, 7,681 participants sent off Team Canada for the Showa Shinzan International Yukigassen World Championships, an annual professional snowball fighting competition, with an outdoor snowball fight.
You need nine players for an official snowball fighting team, so rally your friends together before the 2019 games.
Syracuse, New York, was once so fed up with snow they made it illegal.
In a show of solidarity with its snow-weary citizens, on March 30, 1992, after a record winter snowfall, the Syracuse Common Council declared any more snow before December 24 of that year illegal.
It snowed two days later. The city gets an average of 115 inches per year.
There’s a pretty accurate map deciding if you’ll get snow on Christmas Day.
Based on nearly 20 years of climate data, NOAA’s National Centres for Environmental Information has put together a statistical probability map of whether or not your home is going to get snow on Christmas Day. Florida’s pretty out of luck.
Warmer places like Florida have been known to get snow on rare occasions.
Early in January 2018, the bomb cyclone dumped major snowfall on the East Coast, bringing traffic to a halt in Jacksonville, Florida.
Snow typically looks white, but can be seen in many colours.
Snow and ice typically appear white because visible light is white. Frozen water particles are translucent, but the sunlight’s reflection gives snow its white appearance. However, due to environmental factors, it also comes in different colours.
“Watermelon snow” can be seen near glaciers, due to “cryophilic, or cold-loving, fresh-water algae that contain a bright red pigment.” Antarctica’s Taylor Glacier contains Blood Falls, a deep red snow caused by iron-rich saltwater leaking from an ancient reservoir under the glacier. When it oxidizes, it creates a bright red waterfall.
Thick snow can also appear blue.According to the National Snow and Ice Data Center, “If you were to poke a hole in the snow and look down into the hole, you may see a bluish colour. In each case, the blue light is the product of a relatively long travel path through the snow or ice.”
Only blue light can penetrate super deep trenches of snow, causing a bluish hue.
The largest snowflake ever reported was 15 inches wide, though its existence hasn’t been proven.
In January 1887 at Fort Keogh, in Montana, a rancher proclaimed that snowflakes “larger than milk pans” were falling down, and measured one to be 15 inches wide.
Since then, only snowflakes up to six inches wide have been found, according to the New York Times.
Winter storms cost billions every year.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration calculate that on average, winter storms cost $US3 billion each.
They measure that numbers from the total of “physical damage to residential, commercial, and government or municipal buildings, material assets within a building, time element losses like business interruption, vehicles and boats, offshore energy platforms, public infrastructure like roads, bridges, and buildings, agricultural assets like crops, livestock, and timber, and disaster restoration and suppression costs.”
The most snowfall in the US in 24 hours was 75.8 inches.
Over 6 feet of snow fell in Silver Lake, Colorado, from April 14 to 15 in 1921, according to research from The Weather Channel.
A 1977 snowfall in Montague, New York, is the closest to beating the record.
It can be too warm to snow, but it cannot be too cold to snow.
Heavy snowfall is more likely to occur when there is relatively warm air near the ground – around 15 degrees Fahrenheit ( -9 degrees Celcius), though it can occur at any temperature as long as there is some source of moisture and a way to lift or cool the air.
The world’s tallest snow figure stood 11 stories tall in Bethel, Maine.
In 1999, the people of Bethel, Maine built a 113′ 7″ tall snowman, Angus, King of the Mountain.
Nearly a decade later in 2008, they built the world’s tallest snowwoman, Olympia SnowWoman, who stood at 122′ 1″ and used 13,000,000 lbs. of snow.
She didn’t fully melt until July 30 of that year.
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