Brass Monkeys Facts about snow and Ice

The entire planet was once covered in ice around 700 million years ago. This glaciation, so the 'snowball earth' theory postulates, lasted for 160 million years. .

Some of the largest snowflakes ever recorded fell over England in April 1951 and measured 12.5 cm (5 in) across. . .Snow falls at approximately 2 m/s (6 feet/s), which is about a quarter the speed of rain.

.It is untrue that it can be “too cold” for snow, although the heaviest snowfall tends to occur when the temperature is around zero since the air holds more moisture than it does at much colder temperatures. .

A piece of ice, measuring 20 ft across fell to earth in Scotland on 13th August 1849 and is the largest ever recorded piece of ice to fall out of the sky. Had this landed on someone's head, it would have really hurt. .A single snowstorm can drop 40 million tons of snow. That's approximately 160 million snowmen.

.Antarctica has the coldest average annual temperatures, and the lowest temperature ever recorded on earth (-129°F) was at Vostok on July 21, 1983. .Thursday, 13th December 1997 - Snow fell in the Mexican city of Guadalajara for the first time in 118 years. .

Snow permanently tops Mount Kilimanjaro, in Tanzania, despite being only 3 degrees south of the equator. So there will be snow in Africa this Christmas time, but only if you live near the top of a mountain. .The largest hailstone ever known fell in (or on) the Guangxi region of China in May 1st 1986. It weighed 5kg (11lb). .

2nd June 1975, summer snow fell in Scotland and parts of northern and eastern England, with 2 inches lying at Buxton in the Peak District. I personally remember this event very well as I live close to the Peak District. The snow didn't last long as the warm summer sun got to work, but still shows how nature occasionally throws up little quirks. .The Australian Alps commonly have snowfall above 1500m in the winter, but there are no permanent snowfields on the continent, making it unique in this respect.

.The Greenland ice sheet covers 80% of Greenland, and has an average thickness of approximately 5,000 ft. It is 1,570 miles long from north to south and 680 miles wide at its widest point. . .

Meanwhile on the opposite side of the earth, the Antarctic ice sheet covers 98% of the continent and holds 61% of all the worlds' fresh water. The ice sheet averages approximately 1 mile thick. .It is often said that no two snowflakes are alike.

However considering how many snowflakes fall in a single snowstorm (maybe 20 million or more) and the number that fall each year (we're talking many trillions now) and how many years snow has been falling (my brain is beginning to ache) I would like to meet the person who can prove this!. .Freshly fallen snow can contain as much as 95% air, which makes it such a good insulator. Igloos certainly look cosy. .

So enjoy your snow and ice as we are seeing less of it with the earth's temperatures slowly climbing. But drive carefully and don't eat the yellow or red snow (red snow contains an algae which will give you stomach gyp for a couple of days) .

Mark Boardman BSc dip.hyp is a leading author and expert on the weather. for more information about winter weather and ice and snow, go and browse these sites. Mark's Hypnosis Site.

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