The Colors of Snow

January 2, 2017

Last Thursday we got a big, heavy snowfall, twenty inches or so, the sort of winter weather wallop that we haven’t seen for a few years.  There were strong winds and some underlying ice conditions too, so for some the storm brought the suffering and hardship of travel accidents and power outages. For just about all of us it brought the hard work of cleaning up and shoveling out.  So, it certainly wasn’t unmixed good news for us humans, but the landscape the snowstorm left behind was and still is beautiful.

It’s the kind of snow whose top layer is comprised of billions of intact crystals that reflect the winter sunlight in sparkles, here and there refracting it to flashes of lime green or fiery red. It’s the kind of snow that’s so deep that a hole poked by a ski pole–or, as is more likely for those still busy with cleanup, the handle of a snow rake–will create a small cavern the same otherworldly blue of glacier ice (and for the same reasons too: crystalized water absorbs more red light than blue, allowing the blue light to bounce and scatter back).

These are conditions that can and do change daily as the temperatures rise and fall and new weather patterns roll in. Rain is forecast for tomorrow, so it seems important to notice some of what greets our senses now.

Not our living world,
but I would gladly travel
those blue snow spaces

Version 3


2 thoughts on “The Colors of Snow

  1. What a beautiful image. I didn’t get that “crystals on the surface” effect with this snow, but it’s generally one of my favorite of snow’s light shows.


    • It’s so nice to hear from a fellow snow watcher. Here in Auburn I spotted a few color flashes in the flood of angled morning light a little after sunrise soon after the snow. I couldn’t capture the them with a camera though; the color just didn’t come through.


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