February 2nd, 2011, 9pm

From the Real Marian the Librarian: Snow

Most of you know we have our own Marian the Librarian. Her real name is Margaret Miles, and she is a Youth Services Librarian at the New Hanover Public Library, in Wilmington, NC. Here is here latest guest post:

It snowed here last weekend, providing the opportunity to offer an illustrated glossary of useful snow-related terminology as employed on the coastal plain of the Carolinas.

1.  Really cold outside

The temperature is less than 45 degrees Fahrenheit.


Really cold outside with magnolia.

2. It’s snowing!

It’s really cold outside and somebody just saw something little and white floating down through the air.  (Note that sometimes the little white something turns out to be a flake of ash from somebody’s grill or burn barrel, but that doesn’t mean that it wasn’t exciting.  And it MIGHT have been snow, even if it wasn’t.)


Snowing with dogwood.

3.  It’s REALLY snowing!

a. It’s really cold outside, and a reliable witness, who has checked to make sure there are no grills or burn barrels operating in the vicinity, has seen several little white somethings floating down through the air; or,

b. Multiple people looking out windows or doorways have observed several floating white somethings while waiting for the return of the reliable witness who has gone outside to verify the observations.


Really snowing, in front of magnolia foliage

4. Heavy Snowing

You can see more snowflakes in the air at one time than you can see fingers on your hands.  Note that this means 10 flakes if you’re wearing gloves, but that the necessary number is usefully reduced to 2 if you choose mittens instead. (Or 4?  Anyway, not 10.)


Testing to determine possible presence of heavy snow fall, and considering changing to mittens.

Grassroots philosophers are still working on the question of whether, if you can’t see any fingers because you have put both hands into your pockets (remember, it’s really cold outside), it might be possible to identify heavy snow without actually seeing any flakes at all.

5. Accumulation

You’ve seen several snowflakes sitting on something, all at the same time.


Accumulated snow on camellia leaves

6. Drift

One snowflake sitting on top of another, or at least really close to another.  Admittedly, it takes keen observation and scientific analysis to identify a drift sometimes,  since local drifts can look very much like sand, which is a pretty high percentage of the so-called dirt around here.


Drift – no it’s not sand – on roots of magnolia

7. Potentially hazardous driving conditions

There’s snow on leaves or foliage on the ground right next to paved surfaces.


Hazardous conditions developing on the dark brown leaf, center at the edge of the pavement

8. Snow Sillies

(I just made up this term, because we’ve been needing a name for the phenomenon for a while now. )

Snow is affecting automobiles or other vehicles.  This is the point at which natives of the area start canceling events, closing offices, businesses, and schools, and trying to decide whether or not it will be safe to drive to the grocery store to buy white bread and milk, because that’s what you buy when there’s a hurricane coming, so it must be what you’ll need to survive a blizzard, too.  Meanwhile, all the people from Not Around Here are going about their regular daily lives wondering what all the fuss is about.


Vehicle in snow silly conditions



9. Blizzard

There is so much snow that the whole ground turns white and you can see your footprints where you’ve walked in it.

We didn’t have a blizzard last weekend, though.  Just as well.  As you’ve seen, we had quite enough to cope with.






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