Tuesday, March 4, 2008

If it's Tuesday...

It was 57 degrees yesterday and sunny for most of the day here in upstate central NY.  I reveled in the fact that the light stayed with us until at least 6pm.  Breathing room is how it feels.  Today is a bit different however as it is Tuesday and, as you can see, the temps are just right for possibly treacherous conditions.  Jim has had to cancel the class he teaches several times because we seem to be getting a storm almost every Tuesday.  I am not imagining this.  I have proof positive to back up my thinking.
Here are the results of my research:
March 4 = ice, snow and sleet
Feb 26 = snow storm
Feb 19 = ice, snow and sleet
Feb 12 = rain and snow
Feb 5 = fog and rain
Jan 29 = rain
Jan 22 = fog and snow
Jan 15 = snow storm
Jan 8 = no precipitation
Jan 1 = snow.
arghhhhh......I don't even want to look at December.

This morning while I was watching the changing precipitation coat the trees and branches I saw ice pellets, sleet, freezing rain, snow, granular snow, freezing mist and wet snow in a period of maybe 60 minutes.  This weather show got me to thinking.  I remembered being told as a child that there are tons of words for snow in the Eskimo language. At that time I did not know much about Alaska, make that all I knew about Alaska was Fulton's whoops Seward's Folly from history class so really did not understand the unintended disrespect to the native population nor the reasons for why they would have so many different words for something that this then downstate city child saw melt almost as fast as it came down.

Now I might know enough about Alaska to fit into a thimble from having my students follow the Iditarod for many years.  However I do know some about the dogs raised there, the trust they have with their humans and something of the people in general.  Arctic Lace is also a good resource on the native population of Alaska.  I certainly now know that there are many different native cultures and languages. Just to please myself I looked up "alaskan native american snow words" on dogpile and got some excellent resources. From Ronald Brower, an Inupiaq language professor at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks comes this list.

1.Apun: snow. 2. Aniu: packed snow. 3. Aniuvak: snow bank. 4. Apuyaq: snow patch. 5. Aqilluqqaq: soft snow. 

6. Auksalaq: melting snow. 

7. Agniq: snow blizzard. 

8. Illuksinaq: bright snow condition causing snow blindness. 

9. Kanigruaq: frost on face, tree, etc.

10. Kaiyuglaq: rippled surface of snow. 

11. Mavsa: snowdrift overhang. 12. Mauya: break through snow condition. 

13. Misulik: sleet snow. 

14. Mitailaq: soft snow on ice. 15. Milik: very soft snow. 

16. Masak: water logged snow. 

17. Masayyak: lightly damp snow. 

18. Natilvik: low ground drifting snow. 

19. Nutalaq: fresh snow, powder snow. 20. Qannik: snowflake. 21. Qanniksuq: is snowing. 22. Qatiqsuniq: light snow, deep for walking. 23. Qiqsruqaq: glazed snow in thaw time. 24. Qarraqtualik: area with resonating snow. 25. Quvyugaq: whiteout. 

26. Qimuagruk: snow drift blocking trail or in lee of a building. 27. Qiqsruqaq: thaw qlazed snow. 38. Nutaagun: when snow covers water with no ice. 29. Piqsiqsuq: is snow storming. 30. Piagnaq: snow condition good for sled (ready to fall) travel. 31. Pilik: ice crystals in the air. 32. Sisuuq: snow slide, avalanche. 33. Siquqtuaq: sun crusted snow (covering an open water spot). 34. Sillik: hard crusty snow. 35. Uggulaq: overly damp snow. 36. Uyumiqsuq: is misty, blurred. Snow crystals in the air. 37. Uullukkuu: snow that melts instantly.

Today alone we have seen #1, 5, 6, 9, 12, 13, 14, 20, 21, 31, 35 and 36.  How to correctly pronounce most of these words is beyond my very poor foreign language facilities but I am enjoying reading them anyway.


loribird said...

Ai, this winter is killing me! It's my first in Maine, but I spent a few years in Alaska (albeit the more temperate Kenai Peninsula) and I never felt sick of the wintery weather there - it just seemed appropriate when it happened.
I love the list of snow-terms though - we've seen a few of those this week for sure!
May spring grace your doorstep soon...

Anonymous said...

We had our first snow of the winter yesterday... fat wet snow... it was gone after a few hours :)

Have you ever seen the movie Smilla's Sense of Snow??? It is a thriller that plays in the Arctic circle and Denmark (I think) and snow plays a big role in resolving the murder mystery.

Cheers Eva