Tag Archives: ice pellets

Thinking of Snow and Siberia

Well, we woke up to find a light dusting of snow this morning, which was at least 12 hours before it was forecast.

We then went for breakfast and were interested to see that the snow came back, Some of it was small and speedy, some big and more leisurely. Snow can be quite fascinating and it started me wondering what the study of snow is called.

The Latin for snow starts with a “niv” as I understand it from a superficial knowledge of snowdrops –  Galanthus nivalis. My schoolboy Latin was never much to write home about and forty-odd years of disuse haven’t improved it. This is in contrast to my sporting achievements, which have definitely improved with hindsight – also known as “The older I get, the better I was” syndrome.

Nivology seems a bit dull so it was off to Professor Google for an infusion of knowledge. Snow, nix, nivis, as we Latinists say. Nixology definitely sounds wrong. To snow is, ninguo, ninguere (No, I don’t remember why we have all this multiple choice grammar.) Ningology would be OK – being Latin and sounding quite cheerful.

Unfortunately, despite all this linguistic promise, the study of snow is snow hydrology.  Yes, snow hydrology. Disappointing, isn’t it. There’s a whole world of Ningology out there, and the scientists decided to call it snow hydrology.

The snow continued to fall intermittently and we even had a few minutes of ice pellets. So far “The Beast from the East” hasn’t been too bad, though this just the beginning, and it looks like Tuesday and Wednesday are going to be the worst days. There were snow ploughs out on the A1 as we went visiting, so it looks like we will at least be properly prepared.

So far this winter in the Midlands has been marked by scaremongering headlines, rather than by actual bad weather. I’m hoping the trend may continue in the next few days.


More New Words

We were in Derbyshire yesterday, and had a thoroughly miserable day. The weather was cold and grey with outbreaks of drizzle and, as we climbed higher, wintry showers.

And that is where the new words cut in. “Wintry showers” is, it seems, a term mainly used in the UK. It’s an undefined mix of rain, graupel and snow where the ground temperature is above freezing and nothing settles. In the USA, according to Wikipedia, a “wintry mix” is a mix of  freezing rain, ice pellets and snow that occurs when the ground is below freezing and things do settle.

I say “in the USA” with all the assurance that it’s one country, though now I come to think about it if you are reading this in New Mexico you probably aren’t that interested in snow.

On the subject of differences between the UK and USA, how about sleet? In the UK it’s another part of the rain/hail continuum, as it is in Canada. But cross the border into the USA, according to Wikipedia (and I stand to be corrected by residents of Maine) and sleet becomes ice pellets. For ice pellets and graupel (see – I didn’t forget) see this link.

I now know the difference between hail and ice pellets, where I never even knew there was a difference until this afternoon.

I think that’s enough for now. More on Derbyshire will follow once I have the pie in the oven…