It’s nearly Christmas and there is snow on the ground, but it might not be possible to use it to build a snowman, why is that? The answer is found in science! It has to do with the moisture content of the snow. According to some scientists; Snow comes in five categories: dry (zero percent water), moist (less than 3 percent), wet (3 to 8 percent), very wet (8 to 15 percent) and slush (more than 15 percent). And in order to build a snowman you need the snow to be able to stick together but not be mush, and so you are looking for snow in the moist to wet range. But how do you know? Well, it has to do with the outside temperature when the snow falls!
If you want snow that will be just right for packing into a snowman, you want snow that falls when the temperature is just above or below freezing. If the temperature is in the -2 to 2 degrees Celsius range when it snows, that snow should have the right moisture content to be just right for making your snowman, according to the Smithsonian. But then what? If you want to make the perfect snowman, there is another scientist who has some thoughts on that.
Dr James Hind at Nottingham Trent University put forth a mathematic formula to show what the perfect snowman should look like back in 2016. The formula says the snowman should be precisely 64 inches (1.62 metres) tall and be made of three tiered balls of snow with diameters of 12 inches (30cm) for the head, 20 inches (50cm) for the body, or ‘chest’ and 31 inches (80cm) for the base, of ‘legs’. But he also laid out other elements including decorative pieces! Dr. Hind suggests the snowman’s eyes should be no more than two inches (5cm) apart and have a carrot nose exactly 1.5 inches (4cm) long. He also adds that it should have four distinct limbs, such as arms made of sticks, have three buttons on it’s chest arranged at an equal distance from one another, and should wear just three accessories; a hat, scarf and gloves.
Now, is that truly the perfect snowman? According to the science it might be, but this might be a case of ‘in the eye of the beholder.’ Perhaps the perfect snowman for you is one you made yourself, or one you make with your family. But if you were looking for helpful bits of advice on how to assemble your snowman, and what kind of snow to use; then perhaps the science can help you out.
What ever you choose to do, it is important to remember that just because the snows have fallen doesn’t mean you have to hide inside. Bundle up and go out and have fun in the snow!