15 Interesting Facts about Snow

Susan StevensonSnow. We either love it or hate it.

What cannot be denied however, is that few can resist its beauty as it falls softly from the sky or be fascinated by the transformation it brings to a familiar landscape into something far more magical and otherworldly.

So while we all wait in anticipation for our first big snowfall of the winter season, here is a list of some snow laden facts.


1. Snow forms from ice crystals that are created within clouds that have a temperature of below -0.0°C. These delicate crystals form when water vapour condenses directly into ice (known as ‘sublimation’) rather than from supercooled water droplets that subsequently freeze. A single snowflake consists of a number of these tiny crystals.

2. Falling snow, or a fresh accumulation of snow, contains between 70% & 95% air, which helps to cushion sound that may explain the sometimes perceived quietness when snow is falling.  The air trapped between the clusters of ice crystals in fresh snow also helps to make it a good insulator, keeping ground temperatures relatively warm.

3. It is never too cold to snow, but it is less likely to snow when temperatures are exceptionally low as very cold air holds very little moisture.

4. It is impossible for rain to turn to snow. A raindrop will freeze into an ice pellet rather than snow if falling through a very cold layer of air.

5. The larger the snowflake, the warmer and more humid the air mass. When falling through a relatively warm, moist layer of air, snowflakes will partially melt on their outer layer making them easier to clump together as they descend towards the surface.

Lil Dunne

6. The average snowflake falls at a rate of around 1 meter per second. Larger snowflakes tend to fall at a slower rate than smaller flakes as they encounter more air resistance on their descent.

7.  The concept that no two snowflakes are the same is based purely on theory rather than on hard evidence.

8. Broadly speaking, the water equivalent of fresh snow is around 1/10. For example, 10cm of fresh snow will have the water equivalent of around 1cm approximately.

9. In Europe and North America, the biggest snowstorms tend to be associated with Occluded fronts.

10. The idea that Eskimos have 50 or a 100 words for snow is based on nothing more than a cultural myth. There are actually more words to describe snow in the English language.


11. Due to its geographical location and exposer to Polar air streams, Donegal is Ireland’s snowiest county on average. In contrast, southern and southeastern coastal counties experience the least snow.

12. One of the heaviest snowfalls ever recorded in Ireland occurred not in winter, but in mid-Spring, when up to 2 foot of snow fell in parts of Connacht and north Munster in the space of a few hours on the 1st April 1917.

13. The winter of 1946-1947 is probably the snowiest winter on record in Ireland and although the winter of 1962-1963 was infamously cold, relatively little snow was recorded overall during that season.

ireland snow

14.  Although January 1982 is famed for bringing heavy snowfalls along parts of the east coast, less documented is the fact that equally heavy and disruptive snowfalls affected many parts of Ulster, Connacht and north Leinster during the previous month (December 1981)

 15. Based on Met Éireann data, the average number of days with observed falling and lying snow in Ireland during a year has decreased by around 10% since 1961.

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