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Why is it quiet when it snows?

One of my favorite things about snow is how quiet it can be. Big fat snowflakes lazily making their way down to the earth is almost therapeutic to watch. Aside from the flakes themselves being quiet, have you ever noticed that the world itself seems to settle down right after a snowstorm?

If you answered "yes", then you are very observant (or you live somewhere with a lot of ambient noise and can really notice a I do!).

Yes, part of this has to do with there being fewer people and cars out and about, but there is some science behind this phenomenon as well.

Snowflakes are 6 sided crystals with lots of open space in them. This space allows the crystals to absorb sound. In fact, the absorption rate of snow can be as high as 90% of the surrounding sound! That is a huge amount of noise!

The sound absorption of snow doesn't last forever though. As snow melts, the crystals change structure and are less absorbent. In fact, ice reflects sound, so when you get to the point where your fresh snow has melted and re-frozen with a crust of ice on might be as noisy as ever.

The best times to take advantage of the silencing effects of snow are during the storm or right after the snow has fallen. You need more than just a dusting too...3-4 inches should be enough to dampen the noise where you are.

This can be a stressful time of year - if you are lucky enough to live in a wintry climate, go outside during your next snowstorm and soak in the silence. It is one of my favorite ways to re-baseline and decompress during the winter months. A cold, dark, winter walk with a headlamp is a rejuvenating experience.

Be well and stay Wild and Free!


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