Monday, January 28, 2013

The Biggest Snowflake

A joke in my family is that we always have to start any conversation
by first talking about the weather.
I suppose that comes from our earlier generations living close to the land
and depending on it for their livelihood.
While this doesn't explain  
my natural aversion to winter and cold,
it may explain my need to ponder the weather and to talk about it.

I've noticed that since the snow stopped falling here on Friday night,
 large expanses of it remain on the grass and rooftops.
We experienced a slight warm up to the low 30s Sunday,
but nightfall continues to bring below freezing temperatures.
This morning we were greeted with some freezing rain.
Winter cold lingers here but that's not typical for recent decades.

 Tidewater winters are usually mild
with average daytime temperatures around 48 degrees
and night time lows just at freezing or above.
Nowadays, it's not often that the temperature stays
below freezing for so many days.
So I'm less than pleased that I find myself
in a winter wonderland of snow and ice.

photo courtesy of

However, I read something yesterday
 that made me thankful for the weather we have.
That is the story of the biggest snowflake on record,
which just happened to fall one hundred twenty-six years ago today,
on January 28, 1887 at Fort Keogh along the Yellowstone River
in Custer County, present day Montana.

According to Kim Briggeman, writing for the,
a "Siberian Express" winter storm blew in on the day in question,
rapidly dropping the temperature to an arctic 65 degrees below zero.
And in this storm, a rancher found a snowflake 
that measured 15 inches wide by 8 inches thick.
Now that is a snowflake I wouldn't want to meet on a dark night.

While this big boy was definitely an anomaly,
 larger-than-life snowflakes may be more common than people may realize.
Tomorrow, a glimpse at some more memorable snowflakes.

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