It's easy to describe what snow is and how it works, but what about how it feels?

I will always remember one time when I woke around 2am and looked out of my window to find the first snowfall of the winter after days of rain and drizzle. Flakes fluttered down from the sky like feathers and gently settled in a thin blanket, covering everything below. The sodium street lamps tinted the whole scene to a warm orange and not a thing seemed to move.

I couldn't sleep, wrapped up in the magic of the occasion, so I put on my boots and a warm coat and quietly crept out of the house. I wandered up the drive and onto the road, each step making a gentle crunching sound as the snow beneath my feet was compressed to form a firm mirror image of the sole of my boot. When I made it to the middle of the traffic free road I stopped and looked up into the sky. The whole of the heavens were moving as the snow swirled down in the almost imperceptible breeze. The flakes were big enough for me to follow the movement of individual ones a hundred feet above me, yet the deeper I looked the more they seemed to flow together, eventually blocking my view with a wall of fractal wonder.

Like every child I held out a hand to catch a flake and brought it up for a closer look. It melted before me, turning into a small droplet of the purest seeming water on my pink little finger. Then I opened wide and stood with my head back waiting for one to land in my mouth so I could feel its cold touch on my tongue. Everyone should know how it feels to do that. I can't imagine not knowing snow.

After a few moments I started to walk on down the road. It had not been settling for long, so there was only an inch or two of cover and I could drag my feet so that they scraped the tarmac beneath. With a little run I could slide, the thin layer hardening under my feet and leaving a slippery, cleared line behind. I turned to watch as the falling snow began to recover the dark surface and turn it orangey white once again.

Every now and then I would pause and bend down to scoop up a pair of soft handfuls, squashing them together to form a snowball. Then I'd throw it up into the air or into a tree to knock down a small avalanche, beautiful as it cascaded through the branches in a light shower and landed in a small heap below. I walked up to a car, my dad's, and used my finger to draw a big smiling face on the windscreen, carved into the snow. It would soon be gone again. I decided to go back to bed.

Edward Thomas (1878-1917)

In the gloom of whiteness,
In the great silence of snow,
A child was sighing
And bitterly saying: "Oh,
They have killed a white bird up there on her nest,
The down is fluttering from her breast!"
And still it fell through that dusky brightness
On the child crying for the bird of the snow.

- January 7, 1915

The child in the poem is Thomas' youngest daughter, Myfanwy.

Snow crystals are created when water molecules collect and freeze onto a dust particle, or bacteria or some other solid material inside of a cloud, below or at freezing point.

As free water molecules adhere to the small snow crystal, a hexagonal prism crystalline lattice evolves. Snow crystals may be as small as microscopic specks, or may grow to be a few millimeter in diameter.

Snow crystals vary in pattern and type, under different conditions of moisture and temperature. They can generally be classified into six basic patterns and many different types. Listed below are the types and their descriptions:

  1. Stars
  2. Dendrites
  3. Columns
  4. Plates
  5. Column capped with plates
  6. Needles

Stars, the most common crystals, form near -15 degrees C. They may grow up to be 8” by 12” in size (largest found in Bratsk, Siberia, in 1971).

Dendrites are like stars but they branch and grow in more than one plane. They form between -20 to -25 degrees C, and require high atmospheric moisture.

Columns grow in dry air, between the temperatures -15 to -25 degrees C. They grow to look like long columns.

Plates grow in dry conditions, between the temperatures -10 to -20 degrees C. They are like stars but without the arms.

Column capped with plates, form in mixed conditions over varying temperature and moisture.

Needles are formed at higher temperatures, between -5 to -10 degrees C.

Snow crystals combine together to make snowflakes to make snow.

Follow the sources to see some eye candy.

SOURCES (Online). Accessed December 30, 2001.

Libbrecht, Kenneth G. (Online). Accessed December 30, 2001.

Libbrecht, Kenneth G. (Online). Accessed December 30, 2001.

Unknown. (Online). Accessed December 30, 2001. (only photos)

Snow is a 2-CD album released by Spock's Beard in September 2002. It has 26 songs which follow the life of a man named Snow, so called because he is albino. This is a concept not unlike that of The Who's Tommy. The lyrics are "spoken" by different characters and the wonderful artwork in the liner notes (there's a lot of them) give great images of the story.

Track list and rough outline of the story:

Disc 1

  1. Made Alive/Overture — Snow is born
  2. Stranger in a Strange Land — "shunned as he grew", Snow sets out into the world alone at seventeen
  3. Long Time Suffering — Snow loves his new world
  4. Welcome to New York City — a pimp named "The Knight" greets Snow and shows him his wares
  5. Love Beyond Words — Snow acts as The Knight's psychiatrist, he sees Snow as a savior
  6. The 39th Street Blues — a prostitute complains to Snow and The Knight about her life, Snow offers her salvation
  7. Devil's Got My Throat — a drug addict goes to Snow for help, word of his healing ability spread
  8. Open Wide the Flood Gates — Snow preaches love in Central Park
  9. Open the Gates part 2 — Snow preaches some more and gains followers
  10. Solitary Soul — "The Homeless" tells their story to Snow, they are invited to join him
  11. Wind at my Back — The Homeless praise Snow, he is their savior

Disc 2

  1. Second Overture
  2. 4th of July — the narrator's hints at things to come
  3. I'm the Guy — Snow's ego takes control
  4. Reflection — Snow makes the cover of Time - he is labelled "the albino priest"
  5. Carie — Snow falls in love with Carie, he forgets his new life in order to chase after her
  6. Looking for Answers — Snow wonders why Carie doesn't respond
  7. Freak Boy — Carie's response
  8. All is Vanity — Snow enters depression
  9. I'm Dying — Snow loses hope
  10. Freak Boy (part 2) — Carie's words sink in
  11. Devil's Got My Throat (Revisited) — Snow joins The Addict for a night out
  12. Snow's Night Out
  13. Ladies and Gentlemen, Mr. Ryo Okumoto on the Keyboards
  14. I Will Go — Snow finds salvation in God
  15. Made Alive Again/Wind at my Back — Snow thanks his Savior in the same manner in which his followers thanked him

my favorite non-love poem...

In his poem 'snow,' Louis MacNeice captures the dichotomy of life: the mind-blowing complexity and simple everyday-ness, that is transcribed whilst retaining an unwritten quality. There is no plodding, weighted sensation or boring narrative tone- it seems fluid, life-like, experienced first-hand. Fresh images explode, followed by familiarities, triggered memories of how a tangerine tastes, what it feels like to "spit the pips (7)."

One way in which this velocity is accomplished is seen in the first five words, which convey both a past tense and speed: "The room was suddenly rich," the adverb 'suddenly' creating an intensity, as well as the feeling that it's too early for such a word- perhaps we've missed something. There is no laborious introduction to the state of the room beforehand- we only know that it "was suddenly rich," but with what? As if there is not time enough to explain such a silly detail, the poem moves on: "...and the great bay-window was/Spawning snow and pink roses against it." there is an ambiguity in the word 'it,' as the snow and pink roses could be spawned against the room or, more logically, against the "great bay-window," though it is also the origin of the 'spawning.' The word itself, spawning, is active and life-giving- one has the image of a spider egg bursting open, the new life hitting a windshield- "soundlessly collateral (3)."

The combination of 'soundlessly' with 'collateral'-silently damaged, destructed... and it works, because both snow and roses are soft, and the image of a whirlwind of snow and pink roses crashing into a huge window, then seeing bruised pink petals on the ground- 'collateral damage.'Then, the rhythmic rhyme of 'collateral and incompatible' slows the reader down to a steady beat as it rolls off the tongue.

In the second stanza, the succession of "and's" moves the eye along: "I peel and portion/a tangerine and spit the pips and feel (6,7)" as the aliteration of 'peel and portion' pleases the ear with its comforting repetition (following 'incompatible'). A staccato sound then follows with 'spit the pips' which you trip-skip past, enjoying the rhythm of it, the enunciation forced upon your lips, the snap of the tongue of 'spit.' The next real movement felt is in stanza three, lines 11 and 12: "On the tongue on the eyes on the ears in the palm's of one's hands." Imagine the nouns being emphasized, hit on the third beat like a steady bass drum, the "on the's" a symbal softly brushed. The next line contrasts nicely with a prose-like "There is more than glass between the snow and the huge/roses." that draws your attention to the words, not the rhythm, to the mysterious air about the phrase.

The last line nicely brings the first line round: "The room was suddenly rich and the great bay-window was/spawning snow and pink roses against it (1-2)" - "There is more than glass between the snow and the huge roses (13-14)." This seeming contradiction between the two couples with the commonality of snow, roses and glass. What it produces is a sense of dislocation in the reader, who most probably goes back to the first line with some confusion as to how the glass is between them. Of course, there is a double-meaning to the last line, perhaps consciously implying that there is more connecting snow and 'huge roses' than their shared origin of glass ('the great bay-window'). Overall, this all lends a very 'magical realism' touch to the poem, in its implausibly yet vividly described details.

A few other writing techniques lend this same taste of fantasy combined with normality. By using 'world' without the expected 'the' before it: "World is crazier and more of it than we think," "World is suddener than we fancy it" questions our rules, our inner referee who corrects grammar and spelling mishaps. It opens us, the reader, to accepting the whole situation created in this poem, to accepting it for what it is and not trying to put it in a framework that we are comfortable with. The use of 'we' creates a welcoming mood, expansive, understanding. but then the singular "I peel and portion/a tangerine" zooms us away from the universal, down to this person, performing an unspectacular duty of eating a tangerine- and though the taste and texture is left out, the devourment is implied as the pips are then 'spit'). Finally, my personal favorite: "I peel and portion... and feel/the drunkenness of things being various (6-8)." It strikes a known chord, of feeling how crazy and sudden life is, how infinitely variable, like a snowflake, and it seems logical that eating a tangerine might cause one to feel drunk, dizzy at the thought of how much 'world' is.

"And the fire flames with a bubbling sound for world/Is more than spiteful and gay than one supposes (9-12)." Fire bubbles? Again, that sense of preconceptions being swept aside, the nature of bay-windows and fire reinvented, all in an attempt to recreate, recapture the insane richness of world. The colourful images- pink roses against white snow, tangerine orange, pale pips, the polychromality of flames, the soft flesh of tongue, the sparkle of eyes, the shapely ears and open hands...

"The drunkenness of things being various."

Prior to Eminem, Snow was the most commercially successful white rap artist. His single, Informer, off of his debut album 12 Inches of Snow, topped the Billboard singles charts for seven weeks in 1993.

Early Years
Snow was born Darrin O'Brien. He was born in Toronto, Canada in 1971 to an impoverished family from the Allenbury projects. Snow grew up there, with his formative years being filled with Grandmaster Flash, the Sugar Hill Gang, and especially Bob Marley. However, his true love in his early years was Kiss.

As he reached his teen years, Snow's interest in music continued to grow and he dreamed of being a musician. He became heavily involved in the Toronto music scene and became a frequent visitor at most of the musical clubs in Toronto. He was especially active in the reggae scene, where he began to perform; he took the styles of Junior Reed and others and integrated them into his own sound.

Snow began to be heavily involved in the street life and was labeled as a "problem child." He dropped out of school after the eighth grade and began to run with a tough crowd. In 1990, at the age of 19, Snow was arrested and charged with first degree murder. Since the Toronto legal system didn't have much interest in the case, as they didn't place a high priority on the innocence or guilt of troubled young men, Snow sat in prison for eighteen months awaiting trial. He was eventually acquitted, but while he was in prison, he wrote the lyrics to a song called Informer, perhaps best described as hardcore reggae with a strong dose of rap.

Sudden Fame
Snow was "discovered" in New York City by MC Shan, who dubbed him S.N.O.W (Superb.Notorious.Outrageous.Whiteboy). Shan was quick to snap up the young man quickly after their meeting; upon hearing a rough version of Informer, Shan knew a hit when he heard it. He quickly got Snow signed to Warner Bros.' subsidiary East/West in late 1992, recorded the full album 12 Inches of Snow, and made videos for Informer and Lonely Monday Morning.

While Warner Bros. prepared the album for release, Snow returned to Canada to serve a short sentence for an assault charge. The first single from 12 Inches of Snow, Lonely Monday Morning, was released without Snow able to make any sort of publicity rounds at all, so Warner Bros. held back on promoting Snow until the second single, Informer.

It hit like a bomb in March 1993, eventually sitting atop the Billboard singles charts for seven weeks in March/April/May 1993; the video was played heavily on MTV, and it looked as though Snow was in place to build a long career. His follow-up single, Girl I've Been Hurt, cracked the top twenty. However, after making the publicity rounds and conducting a short tour, Snow took his money and went home for a year. With Warner Bros. practically going crazy for a follow-up album, Snow instead chose to return to his earlier life for most of 1994, finally putting together a weak sophomore release, Murder Love, in 1995. It sold well and had a major international hit (Sexy Girl), but nothing like the multiplatinum success of his debut.

After The Fame
Snow is still signed to East/West and is still releasing albums. 2002's Mind on the Moon, Snow's fifth album, features more of the rap/rock/reggae that Snow is known for, but a bit "different," with some new studio tricks added. Snow himself refers to his sound of his last few albums as "soda". He's still living in Toronto, but rarely tours, mostly keeping to himself. He will forever be known as a one-hit wonder, with Informer making him very famous for a short time in 1993.

12 Inches of Snow (1993)
Murder Love (1995)
Justuss (1997)
Legal (2000)
Mind on the Moon (2002)

Even with all of our fancy technology, snow is still hard to predict and measure; but what knowledge we do know I'll try to pass on here. See Snowflake for a more in-depth description on the flakes themselves.

Snow is a general term referring to a conglameration of Snowflakes, either resting on the ground, falling from the sky, or crunched up into a ball. It is also the name of a musical artist (quite the flake indeed) and the title of countless poems.

High density snow is referred to as Firn if it is older than one year old; see the Firn node for specifics on that topic (thanks, ailie).

It has been (falsely) reported that Eskimos have one hundred names for snow - but you can easily see why when skiers started bringing new names for snow into popular culture. Some of the more frequently heard ones are "fluffy snow," "powder snow," and "sticky snow." As things needed a bit more clarification, even more terms came up; including "champagne powder," "corduroy," (snow groomed into hard ridges) and "mashed potatoes."

Did you know that snow is an excellent insulator? Well it is! "Ten inches of fresh snow with a density of 0.07 inches, seven percent water, is approximately equal to a six-inch-layer of fiberglass insulation with an insulation R-value of R-18." - source:

As beautiful as it is, snow kills thousands of people per year. The "most popular" ways to die due to the winter wonderland are from traffic accidents, overexertion, and exposure. Only recently have avalanche deaths been a more popular option, probably due to the increase in expeditions and climbing excursions, extreme winter sports, and just the general increase in population.

Weirdness: The greatest snowfall reported in Phoenix, Arizona was one inch. One measly little inch. It happened twice, even! The first time was January 20, 1933, and the second time it happened again four years later on the same date.

Sources:, meteorology class,

It is an old urban legend that the Inuit language has more than 30 (or more than 50, or more than 100...) words for snow. The fact of the matter is that there are no more words for snow in the Inuit language than in English. In fact, the same could be claimed about Norway: Norwegian doesn’t have more words meaning snow, but the Norwegian language does have a set of words that are only used about snow. Such as Kram snø (snow which is sticky, excellent for making snow-balls and snowmen), Slaps (wet, nearly molten snow), Hålke (snow that is compacted into ice - especially on the road), Skare (snow that has a hard layer on top, usually strong enough to walk on top, with loose snow underneath), Hardang (really thick Skare), Skavl (a snow pile with a sharp end - shaped by the wind) and Fonn (a word meaning “a pile”, only used about snow). And of course, we have “kryne”, which is the act of dunking somebody's face in snow.

In addition, there are dozens of compound words, such as Puddersnø (powder snow - light flurry snow), Fauke (loose, flurry snow), Valleslett (snow on the border between snow and rain), Sludd (wet snow), drivsnø (snow that keeps flying about without landing, usually light, but with a lot of wind), Eitersnø (small, hard snowflakes - sharp hail, if you will), Dape (weather that changes between snow and rain), Iming (small, dry snowflakes, usually when it’s really cold), Snøgauv (lots of snow falling at the same time), Snøstorm (blizzard), Haglbrist (a snowfall interrupted by a hailfall, then snow again), Snøfonn (a pile of snow), Snødrott (awaiting a snowfall), Nysnø (new snow), Fjorårssnø (last years’ snow), Snøhim (a very thin layer of snow), Kunstsnø (artificial snow) and Lavsnø (snow that used to be piled on trees).

And trust me, there are tons of others. My point? Well, I don’t doubt that the Inuit population has a lot of words for snow, but I managed to trussle up a good few dozen in Norwegian, too. But that goes for any language that has a strong affinity to anything. The English have a lot of words for rain, the Dutch will have a lot of words relating to the ocean, wind, and biking, Australians have a lot of words for waves, and I would imagine hot countries have a lot of words for the sun, humidity, and warmth.

Snow (?), n. [LG. snaue, or D. snaauw, from LG. snau a snout, a beak.] Naut.

A square-rigged vessel, differing from a brig only in that she has a trysail mast close abaft the mainmast, on which a large trysail is hoisted.


© Webster 1913.

Snow, n. [OE. snow, snaw, AS. snaw; akin to D. sneeuw, OS. & OHG. sn&emac;o, G. schnee, Icel. sn&ae;r, snj&omac;r, snajar, Sw. sno, Dan. snee, Goth. snaiws, Lith. snegas, Russ. snieg', Ir. & Gael. sneachd, W. nyf, L. nix, nivis, Gr. acc. ni`fa, also AS. sniwan to snow, G. schneien, OHG. sniwan, Lith. snigti, L. ningit it snows, Gr. ni`fei, Zend snizh to snow; cf. Skr. snih to be wet or sticky. &root;172.]


Watery particles congealed into white or transparent crystals or flakes in the air, and falling to the earth, exhibiting a great variety of very beautiful and perfect forms.

Snow is often used to form compounds, most of which are of obvious meaning; as, snow-capped, snow-clad, snow-cold, snow-crowned, snow-crust, snow-fed, snow-haired, snowlike, snow-mantled, snow-nodding, snow-wrought, and the like.


Fig.: Something white like snow, as the white color (argent) in heraldry; something which falls in, or as in, flakes.

The field of snow with eagle of black therein. Chaucer.

Red snow. See under Red.

Snow bunting. Zool. See Snowbird, 1. -- Snow cock Zool., the snow pheasant. -- Snow flea Zool., a small black leaping poduran (Achorutes nivicola) often found in winter on the snow in vast numbers. -- Snow flood, a flood from melted snow. -- Snow flower Bot., the fringe tree. -- Snow fly, or Snow insect Zool., any one of several species of neuropterous insects of the genus Boreus. The male has rudimentary wings; the female is wingless. These insects sometimes appear creeping and leaping on the snow in great numbers. -- Snow gnat Zool., any wingless dipterous insect of the genus Chionea found running on snow in winter. -- Snow goose Zool., any one of several species of arctic geese of the genus Chen. The common snow goose (Chen hyperborea), common in the Western United States in winter, is white, with the tips of the wings black and legs and bill red. Called also white brant, wavey, and Texas goose. The blue, or blue-winged, snow goose (C. cerulescens) is varied with grayish brown and bluish gray, with the wing quills black and the head and upper part of the neck white. Called also white head, white-headed goose, and bald brant. -- Snow leopard Zool., the ounce. -- Snow line, lowest limit of perpetual snow. In the Alps this is at an altitude of 9,000 feet, in the Andes, at the equator, 16,000 feet. -- Snow mouse Zool., a European vole (Arvicola nivalis) which inhabits the Alps and other high mountains. -- Snow pheasant Zool., any one of several species of large, handsome gallinaceous birds of the genus Tetraogallus, native of the lofty mountains of Asia. The Himalayn snow pheasant (T.Himalayensis) in the best-known species. Called also snow cock, and snow chukor. -- Snow partridge. Zool. See under Partridge. -- Snow pigeon Zool., a pigeon (Columba leuconota) native of the Himalaya mountains. Its back, neck, and rump are white, the top of the head and the ear coverts are black. -- Snow plant Bot., a fleshy parasitic herb (Sarcodes sanguinea) growing in the coniferous forests of California. It is all of a bright red color, and is fabled to grow from the snow, through which it sometimes shoots up.


© Webster 1913.

Snow (?), v. i. [imp. & p. p. Snowed (); p. pr. & vb. n. Snowing.]

To fall in or as snow; -- chiefly used impersonally; as, it snows; it snowed yesterday.


© Webster 1913.

Snow, v. t.

To scatter like snow; to cover with, or as with, snow.

Donne. Shak.


© Webster 1913.

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