Here in the Northeast we have been enjoying what I like to call "fall" all the way up until today. This state includes temperatures in the 50s, plenty of warmer sunny days with nights dipping down just to freezing but not below--and not a snowflake in sight. This is a rare occurence. If you will remember, last year we had a horrible storm on Thanksgiving (which was a full month ago now) that knocked out power in our area for 3 days for some people, and Buffalo, NY got 8 feet in one day. The year before that, Halloween got dumped on, turning little power rangers everywhere into power ranger snowmen.
So I guess it's finally winter now.
This makes me feel nostalgic for the ice storm of 1992.
Trees cracking in the middle of the night. A thick layer of ice coating every surface. Power lines crashing to the ground! Polar bears moving into the southern parts of Canada! Clouds so low you could touch them if you stood on the porch roof! A skating rink in every driveway, road, and mug!! And I had to walk to school in this weather, five miles each way, with only a 1/4 cup of coffee to keep me warm. Here's a picture:
Yeah, I was 4. I don't remember this ice storm at all. I'm not even sure it was in 1992. But we can all invent memories, right?
Compared to past polar vortices (snicker) today's storm is nothing too spectacular, though I am pleased that I don't have to drive in it. It snowed, and then it started raining so there was a layer of ice on the snow, and then it started snowing again, and the weather station Josh's dad gave us for Christmas is so confused it just keeps showing us that it is bubbling outside.
But I have a confession to make: I love snow. And no, I don't ski. Or snowboard. I just think that snow is so cool (literally and figuratively).
Think about it: way up in the clouds where it is below freezing, little droplets of water freeze into ice crystals that form patterns around bits of dust and dirt in the air. Slowly, the ice crystals grow, getting heavier and heavier until they plummet towards earth. There are so many of them that they cover huge swaths of land in layer after layer of snow, each flake different than the one before it.
Sometimes, depending on the conditions in the clouds, the flakes are really big or really wet or really small or almost like hail.
And it's always different! Every snowstorm is different! Sometimes you can make snowballs and sometimes when you go outside it's like swimming through really thick water. Sometimes it's dry and dusty, and sometimes little icicles forms on your mustache (not that this has ever happened to me...).
I'm not sure how much more interesting the universe can get than weather. I know that sometimes it sucks--the tornadoes in Texas for example--but when it's snowing or raining or hailing or micro-bursting or thunderstorming--I love it.
I love thinking about space weather too, because the weather that frustrates and infuriates and intrigues so many humans here on Earth is so small, almost insignificant compared to things like the massive storm on Jupiter, the Great Red Spot, that is bigger than three Earths, and has been raging for at least 185 years and possibly more like 350 years. Probably best to not buy any real estate over there. But even that is a small example.
There are sun spots (sometimes as large as Jupiter, which itself is bigger than 1,321 Earths) and solar flares which eject from the sun at 1250 miles per second and could potentially hit Earth.
Even these are small when compared to storms caused by the death of a star. When a star explodes it sends massive waves of gas and dust out into the universe and can eat up entire solar systems. Check out this explanation of the death of a star:
And even that is smaller than Nebula-sized storms. This gas storm is in the Sagittarius constellation in the Swan Nebula, over 5500 light years away.
Storms of this magnitude are so huge they are nearly impossible to comprehend. Who can really fathom something so big that standing next to it would be like a germ standing next to the sun. Storms the size of a billion billion Earths don't even come close to the terrible roads in New England in January.
At the same time, gas storms in the Swan Nebula don't make it impossible to drive. Although, they might make it impossible to drive a spaceship...
The universe is beautiful, and one of the things that makes it beautiful is weather. So I say, let it snow! <3