Sunday, December 25, 2011

Why Not Blue Snow?

Imagine there was no snow on earth and some science fiction writer talked about this cold white powder that fell from the sky covering everything.  In the cities it covered a lot of dirt and ugliness.  In the woods is decorated the trees in a mantel of white.

How many of us would be able to picture snow as we know it?  I grew up in Southern California so my neighborhood never got that sort of transformation that still amazes me here in Anchorage, even after 34 years of snow.

So let's push it further.  Imagine that snow doesn't just come in white.  How about blue snow?  Perhaps in another world their god  would send different color snow to signal different situations.  For communities that were welcoming and decent and helped each other out, they might get blue snow to recognize their decency.

Or maybe the colors would be changed now and then for variety, but without any moral significance.  Or it could reflect sadness and sympathy, or the beginning of winter.

People might start betting on what color the next snowfall would be.  And ski clothing companies would sell more because people would want outfits that matched the snow. 

Snow White would be joined by other fairy tale heroes, like Snow Blue, and Snow Pink.

Whatever the reasons, colored snow would be an interesting diversion.

But this morning, my car woke up, slowly, and reluctantly, to normal white snow.  And  I got, once again, to go out and shovel the driveway and around my car.

I did give the Muni credit a while back for how they were scraping our street clear down to pavement this year and managed to keep getting back here despite the every-few-day-snow-falls.  (I can find records for amount of snow in a month or year, but not for frequency of measurable snow.  I have to believe that we have set a record for that.  I sure don't remember a year when it snowed so often.  It's been every few days since October 30.)

Today is Christmas, so I don't begrudge the snow plow folks staying home with their families.  (And I'm sure some were out on the main roads despite the holiday.)  But our street hasn't had the snow berms cleared and they are getting higher and higher and wider and wider.  Parking is getting scarce, or worse, dangerous as people park so that there is only one usable lane left for through traffic. 

And while there is blue sky in this picture from this morning, it's been snowing off and on since then. 

By the way, physicists can explain why snow is white.  There are lots of websites with explanations more or less the same.  But of the dozen or so I saw, ColourLovers was by far the most interesting.  I'll give you a tiny bit, but you'll have to go to the site to see the images and the explanation of why glaciers are blue.  AND it turns out there is a pinkish snow, called watermelon snow.
When white sun light hits snow there are so many pockets of air and ice crystals that it causes a diffuse reflection of the whole spectrum scattering every wave length right back at us, and the combination of all color frequencies appears white.
 Perhaps photographer, color expert, and sometime reader Mark M has a link to a better explanation.   Or his own explanation.


  1. dear Steve

    is took to me long time to email you but in the ather hand it has givan me to see how great peson you are. actually without you i couldn't imagine what kind of experien i could have been in alaska.after all come to Alska is big dream for me.

    my english as you know as poor i have no the world how to thank you, just beacuse you i have some photos for memory from lovely country. every morning whan i pry i say to god bless you and your family. and i try to make my best to help ather people like you

    i would be happy if i can make any small for you, and please don't hestate to ask me

    of course i wish to meet you again and my dream is meet you and your family in Alska

    i tried to email you
    my email:

  2. Moshe, good to hear from you. It was my pleasure to share a bit of Alaska with you. I was thinking about you when I put up this post which includes a picture of you walking on pink snow. I will email you and I look forward to seeing you again here in Alaska. Or maybe in Israel. (The rest of you can see the original post of Moshe's visit in Anchorage and our trip to Seward and to the Matanuska Glacier.)


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