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Historical Chances of a White Christmas

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Will we have a white Christmas? It’s an age-old question that occurs to almost everyone this time of year. The chances of having a white Christmas vary even here in Minnesota. Having a white Christmas is loosely defined as having 1 inch of snow on the ground on Christmas Day. The snow depth at most sites is measured once a day, usually in the morning. The best chance of having a white Christmas is almost guaranteed in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area and a good part of the Arrowhead. The chances decrease to the south and west and the best chance for a “brown” Christmas is in far southwest Minnesota where chances are a little better than 60%. Northern Minnesota is one of the few non-alpine climates in the US where a white Christmas is almost a sure bet (U.S. White Christmas Probabilities). In 110 years of snow depth measurements in Twin Cities, a white Christmas happens about 72% of the time. From 1899 to 2009 there have been 31 years with either a “zero” or a “trace”. The last time the Twin Cities has seen a brown Christmas was 2006. The deepest snow cover on December 25th was in 1983 with a hefty 20 inches. It was also a very cold Christmas in 1983, with the high temperature of 1 measly degree F. It was not the coldest Christmas Day in the Twin Cities. That dubious award goes to 1996 with a “high” temperature of 9 below zero F. The warmest Christmas Day in the Twin Cities was 51 degrees in 1922. There was not a white Christmas that year. In fact, the Minneapolis Weather Bureau log book for that day states that the day felt “spring like”. One of the more bizarre weather conditions on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day happened in 1982. Heavy rains accompanied with thunder and lightning hit the Twin Cities after dusk on the 24th and continued into the early morning hours of the 25th. The rain changed over to a slushy 1.4 inches of snow later in the morning of the 25th, but officially 1982 was a brown Christmas since the snow depth was measured at 6am and the change-over occurred after that. Christmas 2007 was the snowiest Christmas Day since 1950. 3.4 inches of very fluffy snow fell at the Twin Cities International Airport, making a very picturesque scene. Has there ever been a snowstorm on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day in the Twin Cities? It may depend on what you mean by “snowstorm”. The heaviest snowfall on Christmas Eve was 5.2 inches of snow in 2009. Another 2.0 inches of snow fell on Christmas Day 2009. To find the next significant snowfall, one has to go back in time to 1950 when 5.9 inches of snow fell in the Twin Cities. The biggest snowstorm was in 1945 where 11.3 inches fell in downtown Minneapolis on December 24th and 25th. The Twin Cities was partially paralyzed. Streets and sidewalks were blocked by huge drifts and walking was very difficult. The streetcar system continued to run, albeit a bit tardy. Minneapolis street department employees used every piece of equipment available to clear the streets for Christmas.

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■ On Nov. 26, 1862, Oxford mathematician Charles Lutwidge Dodgson sends a handwritten manuscript called “Alice’s Adventures Under Ground� to 10-year-old Alice Liddell. Dodgson made up the story one day on a picnic, and Alice insisted he write it down. He published it under his nom de plume, Lewis Carroll, in 1865.

meteorite striking a human being occurs at Sylacauga, Ala., when an 8 1/2 pound meteorite crashes through the roof of a house and into the living room, bounces off a radio, and strikes a woman on the hip. The victim suffered a nasty bruise.

■ On Dec. 4, 1872, a British ship spots the Mary Celeste, a 100-foot American brig, sailing erratically but at full sail near the Azores Islands with not a soul on board. The last entry in the captain’s log was dated ■ On Nov. 28, 1914, the New York Stock Exchange 11 days earlier, showing that the Mary Celeste had been reopens for bond trading after nearly four months, drifting since then with no one at the wheel. The fate of the longest stoppage in the exchange’s history. The the crew remains a mystery to this day. outbreak of World War I in Europe forced the NYSE to shut its doors on July 31, 1914. ■ On Dec. 5, 1933, the 21st Amendment to the U.S. Constitution is ratified, repealing the 18th Amendment ■ On Dec. 2, 1942, Enrico Fermi, Italian-born Nobel and bringing an end to the era of national prohibition of Prize-winning physicist, directs and controls the alcohol in America. Utah became the 36th state to ratify first nuclear chain reaction. He created a jury-rigged the amendment, achieving the requisite three-fourths laboratory under the bleachers in Stagg Field at the majority of states’ approval. University of Chicago. ■ On Dec. 9, 1950, Harry Gold -- who had confessed ■ On Nov. 30, 1954, the first modern instance of a to serving as a courier of top-secret information on the

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• The Guinness World Book of Records cites the world’s largest snowflake ever recorded as one that fell in Fort Keogh, Montana in January of 1887. This giant was 15 inches (38 cm)

wide and 8 inches (20 cm) thick. • Although you might think every big snowstorm is a blizzard, the National Weather Service has a specific definition of one. The storm must contain “large amounts of snow or blowing snow, with winds in excess of 35 mph (56 km/hr) and visibilities of less than Âź mile (.4 km) for at least three hours.â€? • Those folks who are afraid of snow are called chionophobics. Their greatest fear is of being snowbound or stranded. A forecast of a winter storm can bring on cold sweats, racing heartbeat, and panic attacks. • The wind chill factor is the temperature felt on exposed skin due to wind. The wind chill index was developed by two Antarctic explorers in the 1940s, who experimented with how fast water froze in differing temps and wind speeds. This was then compared with the rate that the body loses heat. If the temperature is 0° F (-18° C) and the wind is blowing 30 mph (48 km/hr), it will feel like the temperature is -26° F (-32° C). Skin exposed to 0° F and only 15 mph (24 km/hr) will experience a wind chill of -19° F (-28° C) can freeze in as little as 30 minutes. • Hypothermia is a very real danger in many parts of the country this time of year. This condition occurs when the body’s temperature drops below 95° F (35° C). As the temperature decreases, the body automatically directs blood away from the skin, increasing flow to the vital organs. Since the heart and brain are the most sensitive to cold, a slowdown occurs in their electrical activity. Thinking and reasoning are affected, and the person has the desire to sleep as delirium sets in. When the body’s temperature reaches about 82° F (28° C), the heart rate substantially slows down, and if the temperature reaches 68° F (20° C) brain function stops. About half of all hypothermia deaths are people over 60 years old, with 75% of these occurring in men. • It’s been a long time since the record for a single day’s snowfall was set in the United States. Back in December of 1913, Georgetown, Colorado received 63 inches (1.6 meters) in one day. Canada’s record is much newer – 57 inches (1.45 meters) fell in Tahtsa Lake West, British Columbia in 1999. January of 1911 was a record-setting month in Tamarack, California – 390 inches (9.9 meters) of snow in a single month! Valdez, Alaska is the snowiest place in the U.S., averaging 326 inches (8.3 meters) a year. • Bethel, Maine’s claim to fame is tall snow creatures! In 1999, the community planned for five months and labored 15 days to create Angus, a 113’ 7â€? (34.63 meter) tall snowman, the world’s tallest, overtaking the previous record set by the citizens of Yamagata, Japan, of 96’ 7â€?. Nine years later, Bethel rivaled their own

Page 2

atomic bomb -- is sentenced to 30 years in jail for his crime. Gold implicated his brother-in-law and sister, Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, who were later convicted and executed for espionage. ■ On Dec. 5, 1964, the first Medal of Honor awarded for action in Vietnam is presented to Army Special Forces Capt. Roger Donlon of New York for his heroic action at Nam Dong. Donlon was shot in the stomach during an attack by hordes of Viet Cong. He stuffed a handkerchief into the wound, cinched up his belt and kept fighting. ■ On Dec. 8, 1982, “Sophie's Choice,� starring actress Meryl Streep as a Holocaust survivor, opens in theaters. The "choice" in the film's title refers to a terrible decision Streep's character is forced to make, about which of her two children will live or die while in a concentration camp. (c) 2012 King Features Synd., Inc.

record with the world’s tallest snow woman, a 122’ 1â€? (37 meters) creation named Olympia. Olympia sported eyelashes made from skis and lips fashioned from bright red painted tires. Her arms were crafted from pine trees. • Canadians are experts at making snow angels. In 2004, students, parents, and teachers from 60 schools in the London, Ontario district hit the ground to create 15,851 snow angels simultaneously. In 2011, 22,022 folks in 130 separate locations in Nova Scotia produced the most angels in multiple locations. • Chamonix, France hosted the first Winter Olympics for 11 days in early 1924. Sixteen nations sent a total of 258 athletes to “The International Winter Sports Weekâ€? to participate in 16 different events. Finland and Norway took the majority of the 43 medals, Norway with 17 and Finland, 11. The United States took home four medals, and Canada took home one, the gold for hockey, the first of a streak. Out of the first seven Olympic winter games, Canada took the gold medal in hockey six times. • Squaw Valley, California was the site of the 1960 Winter Olympics, and the skiers were more than a little nervous as the competition Dec. 9 thru hru Feb. 24. approached. The reason? There was no snow! A local Native American tribe, the 7 trips to Local Hills Piute, were recruited Afton Alps to do a “snow dance,â€? and a miraculous Trollhaugen storm produced the Welch Village snow needed to save the Games. Wild Mtn. • More than 150 people are killed in the world’s avalanches Plus 2 Day trips to Spirit Mountain (Duluth) each year. Although Open to Young Men & Women ages 14-20. many are small slides of dry powdery snow Cost to join $170 which covers that don’t create much registration and transportation costs. damage, when large slabs of snow loosen Lift tickets are only $20 for each week from a mountainside, attended. Helmets are required! they can advance Optional Trips Available: down a slope at speeds of 80 mph (130 km/hr) Michigan U.P. Feb. 1-3 cost $250 Spring within five seconds. Break: Winter Park and Loveland Basin in About 93% of those Colorado cost $800-$850. caught in an avalanche can survive if rescued Sponsored by the Venturing Division within 15 minutes. of the Boy Scouts of America. Just 30 minutes later, that survival rate drops Contact Dennis Selbitschka at to 20%-30%. After 651-653-3801 or 651-707-6766 two hours, the rate is selbitschka@comcast.net facebook: ski/snowboardventurecrew9925 almost nil.

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A Senior Christmas

â&#x20AC;˘ The bedpans, so shiny, all stood in a row, Reflecting our candleâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s magnificent glow. â&#x20AC;˘ Twas the night before Christmas at Rock-Away Rest, â&#x20AC;˘ Our supper so festive â&#x20AC;&#x201D; the joy wouldnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t stop â&#x20AC;&#x201C; Was creamy warm oatmeal with sprinkles on top. And all of us seniors were looking our best. â&#x20AC;˘ Our salad was Jell-O, so jiggly and great, â&#x20AC;˘ Our glasses, how sparkly, our wrinkles, how merry; Then puree of fruitcake was spooned on each plate. Our punch bowl held prune juice plus three drops of â&#x20AC;˘ The social director then had us play games, sherry. Like â&#x20AC;&#x153;Where Are You Living?â&#x20AC;? And â&#x20AC;&#x153;What Are Your â&#x20AC;˘ A bed sock was taped to each walker; in hope Names?â&#x20AC;? That Santa would bring us soft candy and soap. â&#x20AC;˘ Old Grandfather Looper was feeling his oats, â&#x20AC;˘ We surely were lucky to be there with friends, Proclaiming that reindeer were nothing but goats. Secure in this residence and in our Depends. â&#x20AC;˘ Our grandkids had sent us some Christmassy crafts, â&#x20AC;˘ Our resident wanderer was tied to her chair, In hopes that at bedtime she still would be there. Like angels in snowsuits and penguins on rafts. â&#x20AC;˘ Security lights on the new fallen snow â&#x20AC;˘ The dental assistant had borrowed our teeth, And from them sheâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;d crafted a holiday wreath. Made outdoors seem noon to the old folks below. â&#x20AC;˘ Then out on the porch there arose quite a clatter

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But we are so deaf that it just didnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t matter. â&#x20AC;˘ A strange little fellow flew in through the door, Then tripped on the sill and fell flat on the floor. â&#x20AC;˘ Twas just our director, all togged out in red. He jiggled and chuckled and patted each head. â&#x20AC;˘ We knew from the way that he strutted and jived Our social security checks had arrived. â&#x20AC;˘ We sang â&#x20AC;&#x201D; how we sang â&#x20AC;&#x201D; in our monotone croak, Till the clock tinkled out its soft eight-p.m. stroke. â&#x20AC;˘ And soon we were snuggling deep in our beds While nurses distributed nocturnal meds. â&#x20AC;˘ And so ends our Christmas at Rock-Away Rest. â&#x20AC;&#x2122;fore long youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ll be with us, we wish you the best. Author Unknown

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OVERCOMING THE ODDS: CHARLES STRATTON • When Charles Stratton was born in Connecticut in 1838, he weighed a healthy nine pounds, eight ounces. However, his parents soon noted that he wasn’t growing like other children. A malfunctioning pituitary gland slowed his growth, so at age four, he was only 25 inches long. He never grew much beyond that height. At the age of five he weighed exactly as much as he had at the age of 15 months. He was perfectly normal except for his size. He was not misshapen or ugly, but instead was perfectly proportioned, very attractive, and extremely intelligent. At the age of five Charles was first introduced to Phineas T. Barnum, and Barnum knew his fortune was made. • Charles' name was changed to General Tom Thumb, and he was billed as being 11 years old and from England, when in reality he was only 5 and from Connecticut. (When they travelled to Europe, he was billed as being American, and when he grew older his age was revised downward.) After being put on stage in a comedy routine with two 8-foot giants, Tom Thumb became the darling of the world. 15,000 people a day flocked to see him, each paying a quarter entrance fee. • World tours were extremely successful. On a trip to England Barnum very much wanted the publicity that would result from an audience with the Queen. But the Queen was in mourning and refused to see any visitors. So Barnum merely announced that he was leaving England and traveling to France in order to introduce Tom Thumb to the King of France. A fierce social rivalry existed between the Queen of England and the King of France. As Barnum expected, an invitation to visit the Queen was not long in coming. • Once when Tom Thumb was robbed, Barnum himself spread the rumor that Tom had been kidnapped and was being held for ransom. The public furor increased interest all over Europe. • Tom Thumb had a delightful sense of humor and impeccable manners. He had a gift for improvisation while on the stage. His specialty was imitating Napoleon Bonaparte, an act that won him worldwide renown. After traveling the world with Barnum, he returned to his hometown

Page 4

of Bridgeport, Connecticut, where he had a home built to scale, with furniture and furnishings constructed in exactly the correct proportions. • When Barnum hired a 32-inch-tall female performer named Lavinia Warren Bump, Tom Thumb instantly fell in love, and the two were married. Their wedding was featured in every newspaper and magazine in the nation. The newlyweds toured the world together, performing in nearly 600 cities around the globe. By the time they returned to Connecticut, they had performed in front of more people than any other person in history – a record they held until the invention of the television. They were also rich beyond their wildest dreams. When Barnum went bankrupt after investing unwisely, it was Tom Thumb’s earning power that put him back on his feet. • When Charles Stratton died of a stroke at the age of 45, he stood 3 feet, four inches tall and weighed just 71 pounds. More than 10,000 mourners attended his funeral, and newspapers around the world carried news of his death and descriptions of the funeral service. His wife lived to the age of 77, and is buried beside him in Connecticut.

FAMOUS LANDMARKS OF THE WORLD: CHICHEN ITZA Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula is home to the ancient ruins of the most famous Mayan city, Chichen Itza. Here are some enlightening facts about this site, named as one of the New Seven Wonders of the World. • One of the largest Mayan cities, Chichen Itza covered an area of at least 1.9 square miles (5 sq. km). It was an active urban center of the Mayan empire from 750 to 1200 A.D. • The ancient Mayan civilization displayed brilliant mathematical and astronomical skills. They were keen observers of the sun, moon, planets, and stars, even predicting solar eclipses from their state-of-the-art observatory, El Caracol, which still stands at the site today. • The most familiar structure at Chichen Itza is the Kukulkan Pyramid, also known as El Castillo. This 98-foot (30-m) tall ceremonial temple is a specimen of this civilization’s development of the 365-day calendar. It has 365 steps rising to the top,

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with each of its four sides containing 91 steps and the top platform making the 365th. Enormous sculptures of a serpents’ heads are at the base of the pyramid on the northern staircase, the principal sacred path to the top. The temple is geographically positioned so that twice a year, on the spring and autumn equinoxes, at sunset, a shadow falls on the pyramid that makes it appear that the serpent Kukulkan is making its way down the stairway. Seven interlocking triangles form a serrated line that resembles the serpent’s tail. • El Castillo was not the first temple to occupy the site. Built sometime between 1000 and 1200 A.D., it was constructed on the foundation of previous temples. Archaeological digs in the 1930s uncovered another staircase under the north side of the pyramid, and continuing the dig, found another temple buried below. • Near the pyramid is a large ball court, 554 feet (168 meters) long and 231 feet (70 meters) wide. It was here that Mayan men played pok ta pok, a game in which players hit or threw a 12-lb. (5.4-kg) rubber ball through a hoop mounted high on the wall, 23 feet (7 meters) above the ground. Archaeologists believe the losers were put to death.

Nearly everyone has heard the Mayan prophecy of the end of the world occurring in December of 2012. The prediction is that the great warrior serpent Kukulkan will rise from the ground under the ball court and end the world on the 22nd of the month. • Very large gatherings were held at the Temple of the Warriors, an enormous complex with a large stepped pyramid, four platforms, and 200 carved columns. Thousands of artifacts have been recovered from the area, including gold, carved jade, pottery, obsidian, rubber, flint, and human skeletons. • It’s evident that human sacrifices were part of the culture. Chichen Itza, which translates “mouth of the well,” was settled around two wells, one a sacred place, and the other for everyday use. Large quantities of bones and ceremonial objects have been recovered from the sacred well during excavation. • About 1.2 million tourists visit Chichen Itza every year. Until 2006, visitors were allowed to walk through the buildings’ ruins and climb the pyramids. However, after a woman fell to her death from El Castillo that year, people are no longer permitted on the structures.

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Savvy Sayings If you ain't got a choice, be brave

The Reluctant Psychic Ghosts

My topic this month is haunted houses. I realize that Halloween is over, but Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;m frequently asked about ghosts so I thought Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;d take this opportunity to try to clear up a few things. A friend of mine is convinced that her house is haunted. For years now sheâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s been telling me that her place is haunted. Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve been there many times and have never sensed anything. Now sheâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s moved to a new home and sheâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s convinced that itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s haunted. She called me one day to tell me about all of the activity going on in her house. It all seemed to revolve around flickering lights. She also believes that this is an evil entity that has taken over her husbandâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s personality - heâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s crabby, she told me. I suggested to her that working full time and then coming home to 4 small children would be enough to make anyone crabby, and that perhaps she needed to have an electrician check out her flickering lights. If the electrician checks out her home and says everything is perfect, then perhaps we can open the question of ghosts and I would need more evidence than being crabby to call this entity evil. This same friend says that her children talk about ghosts all the time and they are afraid to sleep in their rooms alone. I remember being a child and afraid of

Page 6

things that went bump in the night. When I got married my husband always made sure that the closet doors were closed so that the shirt monsters wouldnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t scare me in the night. It wasnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t a ghost. It was just an overactive imagination. I am always surprised by how often I have a version of that conversation with people. The one about their home having ghosts in it. Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;m not sure why floors that squeek and houses that settle have become an immediate ghost haunting for many people, but it has. Perhaps itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s the glut on television of paranormal shows. Whatever the reason for this, my suggestion is always - make sure there isnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t a logical U if!! fmvdubou! tzdijd reason for the noises before you jump to the paranormal. And if your children are talking about ghosts, think back to what conversations â&#x2122;Ś Psychic they might have overheard. Are you talking about ghosts in the house? Are you watching â&#x2122;Ś Medium paranormal shows and your children are â&#x2122;Ś Healer listening in? More likely than not, your home â&#x2122;Ś Classes is free and clear. Thank you for your interest and attention. If youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;d like to have a reading, please contact me. Till next time, stay in 763-576-5134 touch with yourself, your life, and with those ROBINALLEN.NET rachelkphoto.com loved ones who have moved on.

S

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Volunteer for an Acne Study Volunteers, ages 12 to 40 are wanted for an investigational drug research study that will compare topical study medications for the treatment of acne. If you or your child has 20 or more pimples on your face, we have a 12-Week study that you or your child may qualify for.

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Volunteer for a Psoriasis Study! People ages 18-75 are being asked to take part in a research study using an investigational medication. This study is being conducted at the Minnesota Clinical Study Center located in Fridley, MN.

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Steven Kempers, M.D. 7205 University Ave. N.E.

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Page 7


Get Advertising information at www.TidbitsTwinCities.com Or call:763-792-1125

(c) 2012 King Features Synd., Inc.

“The fear of becoming a ‘has-been’ keeps some people from becoming anything.” -- Eric Hoffer

● Historians say that Russia’s Peter the Great was nearly 7 feet tall. ******************** 2 Thoughts for the Day: “Sometimes I wonder if men and women really suit each other. Perhaps they should live next door and just visit now and then.” -- Katharine Hepburn

● It’s been reported that Albert Einstein did not like to wear socks.

● Athletes playing baseball on steroids have frequently been in the news in recent years, but drugs are nothing new in America’s national sport. During the late 1960s and throughout almost all of the ‘70s, Dock Ellis was a valued pitcher who played for several teams, including the Pittsburgh Pirates. On June 12, 1970, Ellis took LSD, under the mistaken belief that it was an off day for his team. By the time he realized that the Pirates were scheduled to play against the San Diego Padres that evening, it was too late. The drug proved to have no ill effect on Ellis; in fact, he pitched a no-hitter. When he recounted the event to a reporter 12 years later, he said he remembered only bits and pieces of the game, though he felt euphoric. Many years later, after being treated for addiction, Ellis became a coordinator for an anti-drug program in California.

● Those who study such things say that ants stretch and yawn when they wake up.

● In 1976, John Moore, a California man, had his spleen removed at the UCLA Medical Center in order to treat his cancer. The operation was successful -- in more ways than anyone anticipated. It seems that the doctors, upon studying the removed organ, found certain cells that had unique cancer-fighting properties. The discovery led to a new -- and profitable -- treatment. When Moore found out that his spleen had led to this discovery, he sued the Regents of the University of California for a share of the profits. In 1990, 14 years after his cancer was cured, he lost his court case.

● There are 120 drops of water in a single teaspoon.

● The inventor of Life Savers was Clarence Crane (incidentally, he was also the father of poet Hart Crane). In 1913, a year after coming up with the recipe for the candy, Crane sold the patent for his sweet treat for $2,900. Seems like a paltry recompense for creating a pop culture icon that is still going strong after 100 years.

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Continued Pg. 2

Baby, it’s cold outside! As we head into the season of cold temperatures, Tidbits presents some interesting and informative facts about winter. • For those of us in the northern hemisphere, the first day of winter is the day the sun is farthest south, on either December 21 or 22. Also known as the Winter Solstice, it’s the shortest day of the year, with about 9.5 hours of daylight. • A snowflake starts out as an ice crystal that freezes around a tiny piece of dust in the air. It can be just one ice crystal, or as it falls, several crystals can join together. There are always six sides, and although two snowflakes may be very similar, none are exactly the same. The shape and form are dependent on the temperature, water vapor in the air, moisture content of the cloud, the wind, and the length of time it takes to reach the ground. Extremely cold weather produces very fine, powdery snowflakes, while temperatures near the freezing point cause much larger and more complex ones. The average snowflake falls at the rate of about 3.1 mph (5 km/hr) and it can take several hours for one to make it to the ground.

by Kathy Wolfe

TIDBITS® PRESENTS SOME INTERESTING WINTRY FACTS

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of the North Metro


ISSUE 680 A1-R