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December 29, 2008

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I've experienced thundersnow once or twice in my life. It's pretty surreal.

Off the point a bit, but reading about the word,"thundersnow" brought to mind seeing a rainbow during a light snow flurry. I thought of the word,"snowbow" but never checked to see if the word really existed. I just did a little search and...
Snowbow is not listed in Merriam-W online and Urban Dictionary defines it as the result of a kind of "high" (not the altitude kind). However, if you search Flickr Photos for ,"Snowbow" you will find a nice photograph of one.

According to the Goddard Space Flight Center, a "snow bow" is scientifically impossible: "Since snow is composed of hexagonal crystals and not spherical drops, the physics of light scattering is considerably different in falling snow than it is in the case of falling rain drops. Consequently, bows of light, opposite the Sun, won't be seen when snow is falling. Light entering hexagonal ice crystals results in halo phenomena."

However: "Even though rainbows don't occur when snow is falling, it's indeed possible to see a rainbow over snow-covered ground. This can occur on rare occasions when rain is falling over snow-covered terrain and the Sun is unobscured by clouds. Another special case when a snow bow has been observed is when spray from Niagara Falls, for instance, is blown away from the Falls on a sunny day and remains briefly liquid before freezing. Robert Greenler has a photograph of such an occurrence on the jacket of his book Rainbows, Halos and Glories."

Link: http://is.gd/edhk

Yes! We are getting closer! The link also says this: "The colors of some halo phenomena are every bit as vibrant as those found in rainbows. Meaning that there are very colorful halo pnenomena caused by sunlight reflected or refracted off of falling snow. And this "colorful halo phenomena" has no name! Awww let's call it a snowbow.

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