Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Snow in Sapporo
After a couple days of mostly sunshine, it has clouded over again, but no sign yet of new snowflakes. Oops, a few are now being squeezed from the atmosphere, and now as I write, it's a light but steady fall.

Meanwhile, our big snow from a few days ago is evolving.

I am enthralled with the snow here, not only because of the setting – the sculptured and tended Japanese trees and shrubs pillowed up with snow – but because of the quality of the snow.

The snow is fluffy and light--it was easy to ski in a foot (30 cm) of it or more. Yet it sticks together and sticks to surfaces, even as it hangs over eaves such as the one outside my picture window.

In the days after the snowfall, the snow in many places is clinging to branches in unlikely manners, draping like garlands in many cases, sitting in lumps like deformed marshmallows in others. On my way in to the university this morning, I meditated on these natural sculptures, several looking like cats, squirrels, koalas, and many like anacondas.

What makes this snow special? Something about its origin as “fog” from the Japan Sea? Is there something in the physics of it? There must be. I can’t find much on the web, I have written to Steve Warren, an atmospheric scientist who studies snow. But maybe he is at the South Pole and can’t get my photo images.

I guess this is more of a photo essay, because I haven’t many words for my wonderment.

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