Thursday, January 21, 2016

Episode 300 (1-25-16): Winter Word Whirlwind

CLICK HERE to listen to episode audio (3:31)

Transcript of audio, notes on the audio, photos, and additional information follow below.

All Web addresses mentioned were functional as of 1-21-16.


From the Cumberland Gap to the Atlantic Ocean, this is Virginia Water Radio for the week of January 25, 2016.

MUSIC – 10 sec

This week, as Virginia and much of the eastern United States experience a major winter storm, that excerpt from “Drive the Cold Winter Away,” by Timothy Seaman of Williamsburg, set the stage for a winter word whirlwind!  We start with a series of mystery guest voices.  Have a listen for about 15 seconds, and see if you know what all of these voices would be saying in English.  And if you’ve been shoveling, plowing, or sledding, you probably don’t need a hint!   

VOICES  - 15 sec

If you guessed snow, you’re right!  You heard the words for snow in Yiddish, German, Russian, French, Italian, Spanish, Mandarin Chinese, and Malay.  Even within individual languages, snow can have many names.  The Inuit people of the Arctic region, for example, have different terms for falling snow, snow that collects on trees, snow on the ground, wind-beaten snow, drifting snow, and many others.  Snow scientists, too, use different terms to distinguish types of snow crystals, snowfalls, and snow conditions on the ground.  Columns, plates, needles, stellar crystals, and irregular crystals are some of the terms used by scientists to describe snowflake types.  And can you guess what term encompasses not only snow and ice on land but all of the frozen water on earth?  If you said cryosphere, you’re a snow genius! 

Thanks to several Blacksburg friends for lending their voices to this episode.  Thanks also to Timothy Seaman for permission to use this week’s music, and we close with a few more seconds of “Drive the Cold Winter Away.”

MUSIC -- 18 sec

For more Virginia water sounds, music, and information, visit us online at, or call us at (540) 231-5463.  Virginia Water Radio is produced by the Virginia Water Resources Research Center, part of Virginia Tech’s College of Natural Resources and Environment.  Thanks to Stewart Scales for his banjo version of Cripple Creek to open and close the show.  In Blacksburg, I’m Alan Raflo, thanking you for listening, and wishing you health, wisdom, and good water.


“Drive the Cold Winter Away” is a traditional tune performed by Timothy Seaman and Phillip Skeens on the 1998 album “Celebration of Centuries,” copyright by Timothy Seaman and Pine Wind Music, used with permission.  More information about Mr. Seaman’s music is available online

Thanks to several Blacksburg friends for participating in these recordings, made on Jan. 20, 2016.

View from inside an igloo constructed in a Blacksburg, Va., neighborhood, Feb. 15, 2014.
Snow-covered woodland stream channel in Blacksburg, Va., Jan. 24, 2016.
Squirrel tracks in snow in Blacksburg, Va., wooded area, Jan. 24, 2016.


Nolan J. Doesken and Arthur Judson, The Snow Booklet: A Guide to the Science, Climatology, and Measurement of Snow in the United States, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colo., 1997.

D.M. Gray and D.M. Hale, Handbook of Snow: Principles, Processes, Management & Use, Blackburn Press, Caldwell, N.J., 1981.

James C. Halfpenny and Roy Douglas Ozanne, Winter: An Ecological Handbook, Johnson Books, Boulder, Colo., 1989.

J. Sydney Jones, “Inuit,” on Countries and Their Cultures Web site,

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)/National Ocean Service, “What is the Cryosphere?”, online at

For sources of information on snowfall forecasts and accumulation, please see this Virginia Water Central News Grouper post: Snowfall Prediction and Accumulation Information and Map Sources for Virginia and Nationwide, as of January 2016.


All Water Radio episodes are listed by category at the Index link above (  For previous episodes related to snow and winter, please see the “Weather” category.


This episode may help with the following Virginia’s 2010 Science Standards of Learning (SOLs):

Grades K-6 Earth Patterns, Cycles, and Change Theme
2.7 – Weather and seasonal changes affecting plants and animals.
3.8 – Basic patterns and cycles in nature.

Grades K-6 Interrelationships in Earth/Space Systems Theme
4.6 – weather conditions, phenomena, and measurements.

Grades K-6 Matter Theme
6.5 – properties and characteristics of water.
6.6 – Properties of air (including pressure, temperature, and humidity) and structure/dynamics of earth’s atmosphere.

Earth Science Course
ES.12 – weather and climate.

The episode may also help with the following Virginia 2010 English SOLs:

Reading Theme
8.5 (symbols and figurative language)
10.4 (imagery and other literary devices)
9.4 (imagery and other literary devices)
11.4 (imagery and figures of speech)

Virginia’s SOLs are available from the Virginia Department of Education, online at