Sunday, 8 March 2015

Snow by any other name ...

Winter is coming to an end. Intensity of sunshine and duration of day has increased steadily over the weeks. Temperatures are still barely above zero but snows have started to melt. Long icicles are hanging along the edges of roofs. Here are a few things that I learned about cold weather and snowfall during this winter. 

Cold weather starts at -10 C in Toronto.
Extreme cold is below -20 C (with or without wind chill factor).
Flurries are light snow showers that do not last long.
Blizzard is a heavy snowstorm that lasts for hours with high speed winds.
Sleet is rain mixed with snow.
Whiteout means that visibility is severely reduced during a snowstorm. In a true whiteout, there are no reference points and disorientation may follow.
Freezing rain occurs when surface temperatures are below freezing point. This causes most of the problems in winter. Ice accumulating on power lines can cause power disruptions. During the last winter, freezing rain was so heavy in Toronto that trees started to crumble under the weight of build up ice over branches.

Snow can further be classified into several different types depending on the shape of its flakes, how it is falling and how it collects on the surface. It is said that Eskimos have more than 50 words for snow and ice but whatever you call it, that is stuff which makes winters interesting.