The Cold Facts

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cold.jpg BRRRRRRR! Chilly enough for everyone lately? On the way to work this morning, my vehicle reported -22 degrees; on the way home at about 5:00 pm, it read -23 degrees. I think we warmed all the way up to about -15 mid-day. But not a lot of snow, much to my dismay. Yes, I love the cold, but I love the snow just as much! And yes, I know that I am in the minority…one of the very few people who would prefer today’s weather to a tropical beach.

My friend Greg, who lived in Fairbanks, Alaska for several years, has told me that -42 is the point at which it is too cold to snow told me yesterday that he never said that, so it must have been someone else at work who claimed that -42 is when it won’t snow, so I was cautiously optimistic that we would see more of the fluffy stuff today. Sigh. So is he right? Can it be too cold to snow? Short answer: not really.

Apparently, it CAN snow at just about any recorded cold temperature – but the dynamics of the atmosphere are just as important as the temperature. And the trusty folks over at the Straight Dope provide a nice summary:

So, to sum up, at temperatures near freezing, you can expect big honking snow flakes and lots of them. On those comparatively rare occasions when it snows near 0 F, you can expect individual snow crystals, but not very many of them because such cold air can’t “hold” as much water vapor. Below about -40º, you can expect only very small crystals to fall, and very few of them at that.

And if Great Falls hasn’t been cold enough for you the last couple of days, and you know how to handle cold weather, you might want to consider visiting International Falls, MN, or Snag, Yukon Territory, or Oymyakon, Russia…or the coldest spot on earth: Vostok Station in Antarctica.


1 Comment

  1. And you don’t even have to travel that far. Rogers Pass, just west of here, holds the record for the coldest temperature ever recorded in the lower 48 at -70˚F. That’s only 10 degrees warmer than Alaska’s record cold!

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