Whether you are singing about snow or hoping that summer would come back, winter storms are on the way in the not too distant future. Here are 5 things you may not know about wintery precipitation.
The city of San Diego has had numerous reports of snow flurries, accumulating to a trace on two occasions. Los Angeles has recorded accumulating snow on three occasions, including up to 2 inches in 1932. Brownsville, Texas, recorded 1.5 inches of snow on Christmas Day 2004. This is that city's only measurable snowfall dating back to 1895. In 1977, it snowed in Miami and Homestead, Florida, dusting cars and palm trees in tropical Dade County. This was not a measurable amount, and the history books list this snow as a trace. Key West has never seen snow. You might also be surprised to learn that Hawaii sees snow every year, and even more so, that snow can fall in Hawaii in any month. As you would expect, the snow that falls in Hawaii is confined to its highest elevations, including Mauna Loa and Mauna Kea on the Big Island along with Haleakala on Maui Island.
It has snowed at over 40 degrees on numerous occasions, at the surface. Theoretically, according to ScienceBits.com, it can snow up to around 46 degrees. For snow to occur at temperatures above 40 degrees, the humidity has to be very low, because as snow falls, the flakes evaporate and cool. Evaporation is more efficient when it is dry.
According to the National Snow & Ice Data Center, snow is a mineral because it is a naturally occurring solid, inorganically formed, and has a definite chemical composition.
Individual snow crystals are small, but sometimes they stick together and create a much larger snowflake. On rare occasions, snowflakes as large as dinner plates have been observed, according to Kenneth G. Libbrecht, a professor of physics at the California Institute of Technology. The largest individual snow crystal ever observed by Libbrecht was 0.4 inches from tip to tip.
Snow is actually translucent and reflects upward of 90 percent of light that reaches the surface of the snow. Very little light is absorbed in snow, and no particular colors are absorbed more than others. This is the reason snow appears bright white, especially as it is falling. In fact, naturally accumulating snow can appear blue or even pink. Just like in glaciers, deep snow can attain a deep blue hue as red light gets trapped in deeper pockets of snow. The deeper the snow is, the bluer it can become. In some higher terrain, snow can be pink due to algae that grows there.