Thursday, January 7, 2021

How do you say Snow? by J. S. Marlo


I have often heard that Inuit people have more than 50 words for snow. It's not quite true, but they do have many words for snow.

Back in November, I was checking the weather, and one day I saw a term I'd never heard before: light snow grains. The grains threw me for a loop. I was taking a long walk that morning, and the white stuff resembled prickly snow, so once I got back, I googled snow grains. From there, since I like for my stories to take place in the winter, I looked at how many different kind of snow term I could find in English.

Snow: Frozen precipitation in the form of white or translucent ice crystals in complex branched hexagonal form. It most often falls from stratiform clouds, but can fall as snow showers from cumuliform ones. At temperatures > than -5 °C, the crystals generally cluster to form snowflakes.

Wet snow: Snow with a high moisture content.

Dry snow: Snow with a low moisture content.

Snow grains: Frozen precipitation in the form of very small, white opaque grains of ice. The solid equivalent of drizzle. Their diameter is generally < 1 mm. When grains hit hard ground, they do not bounce or shatter. They usually fall in very small quantities, mostly from Status clouds or fog and never in the form of a shower.

Snow pellets: Frozen precipitation of particles of either spherical or conical ice; their diameter is about 2 to 5 mm. They are brittle, easily crushed, and unlike hail, when they fall on hard ground, they bounce and often break up. Snow pellets always occur in showers and are often accompanied by snowflakes or raindrops when the surface temperature is around 0 °C.

Blowing snow: Snow particles violently stirred up by wind to sufficient heights above the ground to reduce visibility to 10 km or less.

Snow squall: A heavy snow shower accompanied by sudden strong winds.

Frost: Frost is the condition that exists when the temperature of the air near the earth or earth-bound objects falls to freezing or lower (0 °C). Alternately, frost or hoar frost describes a deposition of ice crystals on objects by direct sublimation of water vapour from the air.

Hail: Precipitation of small balls or pieces of ice with a diameter ranging from 5 to 50 mm or more. Hail is generally observed during heavy thunderstorms.

Ice: The solid form of water. It can be found in the atmosphere in the form of ice crystals, snow, ice pellets, and hail for example.

Ice crystals:
Precipitation in the form of slowly falling, singular or unbranched ice needles, columns, or plates. They make up cirriform clouds, frost, and ice fog. Also, they produce optical phenomena such as halos, coronas, and sun pillars. May be called "diamond dust." Precipitation of ice crystals in the form of needles, columns or plates sometimes so tiny, they seem suspended in air. They are mainly visible when they glitter in sunshine and occur only at very low temperatures and stable air masses.

Ice pellets: Precipitation of transparent or translucent pellets of ice, which are spherical or irregular shaped, having a diameter of 5 mm or less. They are classified into two types: hard grains of ice consisting of frozen rain drops or largely melted and refrozen snowflakes; pellets of snow encased in a thin layer of ice which have formed from the freezing of droplets intercepted by pellets or water resulting from the partial melting of pellets. Ice pellets usually bounce when hitting hard ground and make a sound on impact. They can fall as continuous precipitation or in showers.

Freezing rain: Rain, the drops of which freeze on impact with the ground or with objects at or near the ground.

Freezing drizzle: Drizzle, the drops of which freeze on impact with the ground or with objects at or near the ground.

Can I tell the difference between  all of them when I'm outside? Most of the time, but I oblivious didn't know about snow grains LOLOL

One thing I can say, it's how cold it gets in my northern corner of the world.  

It's so cold...we had to chop up the piano for firewood.  Ya, we only got two chords.

It's so cold...grandpa's teeth were chattering.  In the glass!

It's so cold...eating ice cream was knocked down to #4 in the "Top Five Ways to get a Brain Freeze".

It is so cold...we can toss a cup of hot water in the air and hear it shatter into ice crystals.

Happy reading! Stay Warm & Safe!
Many hugs!



  1. Snow - What a number of ways to call frozen water. Keep writing

  2. I had never heard of snow pellets either. We only get snow in the northern mountains of Arizona, and although it's beautiful, and I used to ski when I still lived in France, I find it too cold nowadays. I do like the dry heat... but I love looking at the pictures in my desert abode. :-)


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