Winter Fun Facts

Winter Fun Facts

Pam North
Peak to Peak

Nederland may have a frozen dead guy, but Bethel, Maine can boast a frozen tall guy. For all you snowman builders, here’s what you have to top. The largest snowman built so far was a whopping 113 feet, 7½ inches, topping Yamagata, Japan’s previous record of 96 feet 7 inches. The gigantic snow figure, named Angus, was constructed over a period of 15 days from 200,000 cubic feet of snow packed by a crane into a framework made of old highway signs. Natural snow was used primarily, along with some man-made snow from a nearby ski resort and some made with snow guns. Angus outlasted winter by not melting completely away until June.
Not to be complacent with this accomplishment, the community set another record in 2008 by building the world’s tallest snowwoman, Olympia, at 122 feet 1 inch, weighing 13,000,000 pounds. She had blond tresses made from rope, red lips from painted tires, eyelashes from skis, and her accessories included a giant red hat and a 100-foot-long red scarf.  She melted away in July.
There also was a frozen snowflake guy.  Wilson A. Bentley (1865-1931), known as “The Snowflake Man,” studied snowflakes under a microscope, then adapted a camera to the microscope in the 1920s and photographed them.  His conclusion that “no two snowflakes are alike” has been proven wrong in recent years, as two identical snowflakes have been documented.
The world’s largest snowflake was 38 cm wide (almost 15 inches) and 20 cm thick, found at Fort Keogh, Montana in 1887.
If you’re already tired of snow, get a perspective from the following statistic: the largest recorded U.S. snowfall is a hefty 1,140 inches for the 1998-1999 winter season at Mt. Baker, Washington. That’s about 95 feet, enough to bury a nine-story building. The most snowfall within 24 hours in the U.S. was 63 inches in Georgetown, Colorado, on December 4, 1913. Phoenix, Arizona’s record snowfall was in 1933, and it totaled a single inch.
Have you heard that it can be too cold  to snow?  That’s a myth. As long as sufficient moisture is there, the snow will come, no matter how low the temperature. It also can snow from clear skies when temperatures are in the single digits or colder.
Other myths are the supposed predictions of a cold winter, such as thicker fur coats on animals, early migrations of birds, heavy coats on woolly caterpillars, larger numbers of spiders seen in the fall, squirrels gathering nuts early and building their nests low in trees, and ants building their mounds higher. There is no basis in fact for these.
And snow is not white; it’s actually transparent. It only appears white because the crystals act as prisms, breaking up the light of the sun into the entire spectrum of color. Pink snow? In some areas where there is a lot of red dust, it can blow into the clouds and give a pink cast to the snow. There’s also watermelon snow, snow with unique algae on it, usually in the high country, that tints the snow pink and actually smells like watermelon.
What is the correlation of snow to rain in inches?  Ten inches of snow melts down to about one inch of rain.
Whether we love it or hate it, winter is here with its own unique aspects. We might as well appreciate it.

Pam is a staff reporter for The Mountain-Ear. She covers historical topics and news of the Peak to Peak region.


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