Ask a Ranger: What do you know about snow?

Feb. 01, 2014 @ 11:55 PM

With snow heavy on our minds — and streets and trees — I thought I would write about this lovely form of precipitation. 

Snow is considered a mineral because it is a homogenous solid that occurs naturally. Snowfall is a vital part of Earth’s ecosystem. It helps regulate climate and surface temperature, influences seasons (monsoon), the hydrologic cycle and plant and animal life cycles and populations. 

Although this region does not regularly experience snowfall, it is an utterly important part of our ecosystem.

Here are a few more interesting facts about snow:

— Snow is not always white, due to reflection or particles and cold adapted algae within the snow. It can appear blue, red, pink, etc. 

— A snowflake starts by a frozen water droplet adhering to a dust or pollen particle.

— Every snowflake has six “arms.”

— A blizzard is defined as three hours or more of heavy falling or blowing snow, wind in excess of 35 mph, and visibility a quarter of a mile or less.

— The largest snowflake recorded was 15 inches long and 8 inches thick.

— There is such a thing as Thunder Snow! It’s when the temperature is low enough to produce snow but the conditions are also conducive to create thunder and lightning.

As the weather warms and the snow disappears this weekend, think about the uniqueness of this wonderful weather that is uncommon to this area. And don’t forget Kerr Lake State Recreation Area is open and here to explore!

Check out www.ncparks.gov for upcoming programs or listen to us on WIZS-1450 AM this coming Thursday at 4:30 p.m.

Reference websites:

http://www.noaa.gov/features/02_monitoring/snowflakes_2013.html

http://nsidc.org/cryosphere/snow/index.html

Send your question to park ranger Jessica Williams at jessica .b. williams @ncparks.gov.