Can It Ever Be Too Cold To Snow?

You may have heard someone say, “It’s too cold to snow today,” but actually it can never be too cold to snow.

Snow clouds form high in the air, where the temperatures are colder than it almost ever gets here in the United States. Two-inch snowstorms have fallen when the ground temperature was colder than 20 degrees below zero.

But there is a grain of truth in the idea that very cold weather and snow don’t go together. When the air is very cold, it’s usually very dry as well. So it can be too cold to snow heavily, but never too cold to snow.

About Karen Hill

Karen Hill is a freelance writer, editor, and columnist. Born in New York, her work has appeared in the Examiner, Yahoo News, Buzzfeed, among others.

1 thought on “Can It Ever Be Too Cold To Snow?”

  1. This saying, certainly in England, has got nothing to do with whether there is or isn’t a temperature below which its scientifically impossible to snow.
    It has to do with people’s experience, over many pre-internet generations, of when it snows here.

    Generally speaking, if its perishing cold in England, there probably isn’t much, if any, cloud cover. If there’s no cloud cover, it won’t snow.

    We’ve just woken up to about a foot of snow this morning.
    Now that it’s snowed heavily and there’s more on the way, we can see that the sky is covered with thick white cloud. Even though it’s snowing, that thick cloud results in the temperature on the ground being slightly higher than yesterday when there was no cloud cover.

    If you’d been outside here yesterday evening, you would have noticed that it was nowhere near as cold leading up to the snow, as the snow clouds began to cover the sky, as it was during the day. In fact, as an honourary Northener living in the South of England, it’s positively toasty here today compared to yesterday even though it’s completely white and sub-zero here.

    If you spend enough winters getting around on foot, instead of driving everywhere or being sat indoors on a computer, you can feel when there’s been that slight rise in temperature which indicates that the snow clouds are starting to cover the sky. This is especially noticeable if it’s been perishing cold with no snow for several days.

    As long as those snow clouds don’t form and cover the sky and the temperature doesn’t rise that little bit, then “it’s too cold to snow”.

    The saying itself is misleading, but then it was invented in an era before the internet when people’s every utterances weren’t scrutinised to the nth degree. (that’s nth degree Celsius obviously :) )

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