One of my four favorite seasons year is winter. (Yes, for various reasons, I love each one. I’ve seen them all from South Carolina to western, mountainous and eastern North Carolina; some Southern states get hit with hurricanes more often than the rest of the South. But other parts of the South get hit by hurricaines and various degrees of snow or it’s thawed, then frozen, biproducts. From snow flurries to snow storms, to sleet, to snow squalls to freezing rain, as well as the dangers of the snow as it melts each year. Yes, I had a blizzard experience. (Post coming out in two days.)
Snow, to me, is part of the Christmas and winter season. There’s nothing like the real thing. The beauty of snow in movies and photos just doesn’t quite measure up to the experience of feeling the first flakes; seeing snow covered cars, trees, ground and children playing in the snow. But considering the potential dangers of snow/ice/frozen precipitation, I thought it would be helpful for me to share some information to some who are new to snow or who live in ther countries that have no snow, or who never understood or heard of the different kinds of snow events. I am talking from my own expereinces and the lessons my father taught me.
The white soft flakes drifting in varying degrees for a short time, with little or no accumulation are snow flurries. Snow showers are similar to snow flurries but have some accumulation. Snow squalls are heavy snow falls with powerful winds that cause snow accumulations; this kind of snow is mostly near large bodies of water. The Midwest can have blizzards, ice storms, and winter storms with frozen rain, sleet, and snow.
A winter storm is created by the very cold, dry, Canadian air as it sweeps over the moist air of the deep South. This storm may present as snow, sleet, or freezing rain and may cause decreased visibility for drivers; has dangerously cold temperatures, and wind chill factors that can be deadly. Wind chill, for those living in warm climates, is the colder sensation when wind hits moist surfaces, like your skin.
A blizzard combines strong winds with subfreezing (less than 32 degrees Fahrenheit or 0 degrees Centigrade) temperatures that last at least four hours and cause dangerous conditions, such as loss of electricity from power lines and even tree limbs weighted down to breaking point with frozen ice. Blizzards and any heavy snow events can cause auto accidents from little to no visibility while the snow is falling.
After the snow stops, then melts during the day it may refreeze as ice on the roads and overpasses after the temperatures go down with the sun. The frozen melted snow or ice is called black ice. This is very dangerous because you don’t easily see it. It can be a real hazard if one is driving too fast or too close to the next car ahead or behind you. It’s like ice skating for a beginner if you drive too fast or hit your brakes on a slick area of the road.
There was one “Snowpocalypse” on Feb 13, 2014 in Raleigh, North Carolina. The snow started falling in late afternoon when people started getting off from work. The snow did not stop for hours. There were many traffic accidents and blockages from slowing traffic. People in their cars got stuck waiting for traffic to move as the slush caused by the previous traffic began to freeze. People were held up on the by pass for hours!
There are some variations of snowfalls. Lake effect snow (a type of snow squall) comes from body of water that gets caught up in the air where it is colder (often around the Great Lakes) causing a fast and heavy snow fall. I saw this on a visit to Michigan once. We went to a movie theater and came out two hours later and there was at least 1-2 inches of snow on our car!
The snow we get in North Carolina is usually a more gentle snow but can be persistent for a day or two. More snow can fall in the mountains of course where the temperatures can be lower in the higher altitudes.
The above picture along with the next two were taken several years ago at Cape Hatteras, North Carolina. This rare snowstorm and freeze hit Cape Hatteras just as a friend and I got out of the car to see the Hatteras Lighthouse! Boy were we surprised!!
It snowed all afternoon and part of the night. Then had the audacity to freeze so hard that I slipped on the icy snow the next morning! This is something most people there never see. I was so amazed that I kept going to the window saying, “This is amazing!”
I am an ardent lover of trees as you may have noticed from a previous post: https://joyful2beeblogs.com/2017/09/23/people-and-trees/
This was taken from my back door. Tree branches can also become coated in ice after a melting snow freezes on the twigs and branches of the trees or, of course after a sleet storm.
Snow can change the appearance of just about anything.
The pure unsullied white on the ground, trees, yards and roads makes me feel like my part of the world is cleansed, unsullied and more beautiful at least for a while. I know snow can cause a lot of problems but it is a wonder to watch as it falls. When the white precipitation rests, it’s a cold, white blanket on surfaces, telling everything and everyone, “Take a moment, look, enjoy and “chill.”