Earlier this year, the weathermen predicted that 2014 would bring ‘the coldest winter in over a century’ to our doors. With the temperatures at the onset of the year plummeting to -27 degrees in Braemar, Scotland, the widely forecast heavy and persistent snow, freezing gales and sub-zero temperatures look set to bring the predictions true.

So as we prepare for the onset of blizzards, freezing temperatures and ungodly speeds of wind, let’s take a look at a few facts you may not know about the elements of snow and wind, which are always associated with this time of the year.

10 interesting facts about snow:

  1. The word ‘snow’ can be traced back to the 9th century, with the term ‘snowball’ arriving in 1400, ‘snowflake’ in 1734, and ‘snowman’ in 1827.
  2. When one inch of fresh snow melts it produces less than a 10th of an inch of water.
  3. On February 2, 2009, enough snow fell in the UK for every person to make 251,800 snowballs each.
  4. The average snowflake falls at a leisurely speed of about 3mph, perfect for catching!
  5. Chionophobia is a conditon when a person fears the snow.
  6. from 1865-1931, US farmer Wilson Bentley devoted his life to taking 5,381 photographs of snowflakes.
  7. According to a paper,  The Great Eskimo Snow Hoax, written by Geoffrey Pullum, Inuit (or Eskimo) languages have only two basic words for snow: qanik and aput.
  8. The English language previously contained at least five other words for a snowflake: flaughen, flaw, flight, flother and snowblossom.
  9. The word ‘ninguid’, described by the Oxford Dictionary, as ‘rare’ and ‘obsolete,’ means snowy or covered in snow.
  10. The world’s largest snowman was a staggering 122ft tall, built in Maine, USA in 2008.

10 interesting facts about wind:

  1. windmillThe highest gust of wind in the UK was recorded on March 20, 1986, in the Cairngorms, Scotland, at 173mph.
  2. In 1703, high winds and torrential rain killed 8,000 people in southern England.
  3. ‘Anemious’ is a plant that grows in windy conditions, and is one of the rare words that contain all five vowels in sequence.
  4. In AD65, the Roman writer Petronius wrote: “No living man has the right to cut his nails or hair on a ship, unless the wind is blowing a hurricane.”
  5. An anemometer is a device to measure wind speed.
  6. Sir Francis Beaufort designed the scale of wind strength in 1805, which was based on the effect of wind on the sails of a warship.
  7. The 13 categories of wind strength ranged from “just sufficient to give steerage” to “that which no canvas sails could withstand”.
  8. The scale is now: 0 (calm) to 12 (hurricane), with five additional levels for tropical cyclones.
  9. Old sailors believed that strong winds were the cause of someone shutting up a cat on shore.
  10. Over three percent of the world’s energy production now comes from wind power.

So with all these weather warnings and record breaking cold spells, it’s wise to revisit our tips on ‘being prepared’ for winter. We have seen how devastating extreme weather can be on a large scale, but let’s not forget how damaging the everyday elements can be on our homes too.

Don’t get caught out, check your heating system, pipes and insulation. Manage the snow, don’t let the snow manage you.

[Photos by snowbear and eurosbox]