“Snow provokes responses that reach right back into childhood.” Andy Goldsworthy
The origin of this post was a staffroom conversation about childhood memories of snowfall. I wondered why there isn’t a scale to measure the severity of snowfall in the way that, for example, the Beaufort Scale measures windy weather.
A little bit of research (a couple of minutes on google) revealed that there isn’t an established measure of snowfall. The Northeast Snowfall Impact Scale is used in the USA to measure snowstorms on a 1-5 scale, much in the same way as storms and hurricanes, but it measures the impact after the event, and is designed for far more serious weather events than we normally experience in the UK. Weather forecasters do of course, comment on the depth of snow, but that quantitative measure can’t fully describe the experience of snow; the excitement that can be generated its mere prospect, whether the type of snow will bring trains to a halt, or, crucially in the world of education, whether there will be a snow day.
So here then, I present the Experiential Snow Scale, covering the full range of snow events, from the briefest of flakes upwards. Comments and suggestions for improvement welcome.
1. Disillusioning Snow. Is it? Yes it is! There are definite snowflakes, but even as you rush excitedly outside, they melt away as if they were never there.
2. Light Dusting. Like icing sugar on top of a Victoria sponge cake, just enough snow to make the world look a little bit prettier.
3. Snowball. Enough snow to make snowballs that hold onto their structural integrity in flight and create a satisfying ‘whump’ as they disintegrate on contact with their target.
4. Snow Angel. Enough snow covering the ground that you can lie down in it and make a discernible snow angel.
5. Snowman. Enough snow to build a snowman over 4 feet tall, sporting a carrot nose and your choice of accessories.
6. Snow Day. With school buses cancelled, roads and paths blocked, and staff unable to to get into work, a snow day is declared. Columnists writing from home in their pyjamas call it a disgrace and claim that billions will be lost from the national economy.
7. Igloo. OK, so not an actual one cut from blocks of ice, but enough snow to build a dome large enough to house at least a small child drinking hot chocolate with marshmallows.
8. Where’s my car?
9. Where’s my house?
10. Penguin Ramp. David Attenborough narrates as a film crew digs a ramp to help the penguins to get out.
I hope that made you smile, but If you’re faced with the more serious business of school planning for extreme weather, you may want to read my post on severe weather planning in schools.