Why is It Quieter After a Snow Fall?

Trees-in-Snow

I did a couple of posts recently…

that talked about the feeling you get through your senses when it snows.  Niagara Falls in Winter – Getting Outside is a Known Mood Booster was one. It has beautiful images of Niagara Falls trees draped in ice. But in the post, When I Started This Blog,

I mentioned, “A snow-covered nature is almost always quieted, its silence and stillness quieting a world filled with humans that make too much darn noise. Maybe that is why I like snow so much.”

Of course that is one important reason, but not the one based on physics.

Snow-on-Trees-1

How true it is the world quiets after a snow. The world looks very different too. Where some days due to inclement weather, the world reduces to black and white, while other blue-sky days the few colors left in the dormant landscape come alive.

Snow-on-Trees-4

As an architect, we learn a lot of things about how the environment works. The reason is to be able to work amicably within that nature and also to design structures that provide human comfort, safety and foremost, shelter without impinging too harshly on what surrounds the structure. We learn environmental science to reduce resource use.

In my post I forgot to say there is a “practical” reason why snow is quiet. It insulates and is a great sound absorbent.

Snow-on-Trees-2

When the earth gets a thick layer of fresh, fluffy white snow, sound waves are absorbed and dampened by the snow. It is very similar to the air-filled building materials – like fibers and foam – used to absorb sound in buildings. Fluffy snow holds a lot of air. Air is a good, free insulator.

Tufted-Titmouse

When birds puff up their feathers, the feathers trap air to keep the birds warm. Snow insulates plants in winter. Nature always has been a good teacher in the way we design.

Downy-Woodpecker

I think the “quiet of the landscape” effects the wildlife in a similar way. The animals appreciate a world with less humans. Unfortunately for them, this quiet of dampening snow has danger too. The predators know this, not to mention most animals are easily seen against a white landscape. Many animals keep inside their homes like we do on snow days.

Sparrows-in-Winter-lilac

If you Google “happiest places in the world” you see many Scandinavian countries on that list. Sure it is their particular way of life, but is it not a coincidence they have a lot of snow days?

As a kid, I looked forward to snow days, even those when the electricity went down. It meant candle or oil lantern lit rooms, family time, good food, fireplace chats, warm cocoa, all the things we associated to a time before modern technology. The TV was off.

Gulls-on-Niagara-River

As much as I like to visit a place with daily sunlit ocean views, I would not be happy without having it snow on occasion. Funny thing about those lists, Hawaii was also listed number one on one list when it just looked at the people’s happiness. Another thing to notice about these lists, the places themselves are some of the most beautiful places in the world. Coincidence? I think not.

Grasses-in-Snow

I find living where I do, I sometimes have to look a little harder for that special happiness. It takes me out of my warm home and onto the trails to locate beauty. Today was an especially beautiful day with the sun peeking in and out between the clouds, all the while, fluffy flakes falling from the sky. Heaven…

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About Garden Walk Garden Talk

I love to photograph, paint, draw, design, garden, travel the world, and pass on a few tips and ideas that I learned through experience as a Master Gardener and architect. I am highly trained in my field and enjoy my work each and every day. I garden in Niagara Falls, NY in zone 6-B. Find me at: http://gardenwalkgardentalk.com
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48 Responses to Why is It Quieter After a Snow Fall?

  1. johnvic8 says:

    The snow also reduces considerably the sounds of movement. Not a lot of sound from foot crunches.

    • Yes, true as long as a predator does not break through crusted snow like we do so easily. Animals always hear me coming. 😀 That is why I mentioned prey and predators. It is a bit tough getting food if you are a prey species in winter. Senses are acute but sounds are dampened.

  2. Indie says:

    Snow can be so beautiful, but it can be an effort to get out in it and enjoy the peace and stillness. It is worth it though! I am rather surprised that Scandinavian countries make the happiness list as I would think all that darkness during the winter would be a detriment. I find after moving back up north that amount of sunlight plays a huge factor in my mood. I enjoy a sunny snow-filled day, but a gloomy one, not so much.

    • That was my first thought too, those long dark days and SAD. Norway, Finland, Denmark, etc, all of them were somewhere on that list. But they went on to explain that they are a social people with close family ties. Gathering for dinners, drinks, games, saunas, song and such is why their happiness level rises. In this country, I think people are all too busy or too tired!

  3. alesiablogs says:

    Glad you had a great day reminding you of heavenly ideals. I like that.

    • Actually, you give me too much credit since it was just an off the cuff statement at the post’s close. The day was pretty with the way the snow was falling and nothing more. My fault I suppose using the word heaven. No heavenly ideals entered my mind about the beautiful day. Hope you have a nice weekend.

      • alesiablogs says:

        Well your post did make me want to go out in the snow and that is exactly what I did today. The weekend is going better than last weekend with the water leak!

  4. swo8 says:

    That certain quiet of snow is distinctive but I’m so looking forward to the return of morning bird song.
    Leslie

  5. Good information and gorgeous photos! I do love the quiet that snow brings.

  6. Alice says:

    Stunning photos and wonder words. I often awaken in the middle of the night when it snows…and listen too the quiet.

  7. sigh: I miss my Rocky Mountain Snows…beautiful photos, and reflections Donna.

  8. Your photos never, ever fail to be wonderful.

  9. There is something so beautiful after a fresh layer of snow as it graces the landscape and I have always loved the peacefulness and silence after a storm. I had known that the snow produces an insulating effect but never put the two together to make the connection. I enjoyed your past and all the lovely photographs you have captured…simply put…beautiful!

  10. Not sure if we will see more snow around here, or if we will have an extremely early spring. The snow cover is all melted for now. You have to wonder about the relationship between climate and happiness. I always thought of people in warm climates as being happiest – Italians, Spaniards, etc. But that could be a stereotype. Russians have been a pretty gloomy bunch with or without communism, but they certainly have lots of snow.

    • I think we will get more snow, but it is warming up a bit for next week. There is something to it though. The Russian people live very differently than in the Scandinavian countries. I would like to see Russia one day. I missed out when I went to Eastern Europe.

  11. debsgarden says:

    I enjoy your beautiful snow images. A snow day for us is a rare treat; that is why everyone here gets excited over the mention of possible snow. While areas north of us have been buried in it, snow has missed us this year except for a few flurries. The winter world truly is quieter and more beautiful under a layer of the magical stuff. It is only February, so it is still possible!

    • Thank you Deb. It is pretty down South, but I could not live there without having such a change of seasons. Maybe you will get some snow. Snow has been hitting places that rarely get it in the last few years.

  12. lucindalines says:

    Such beauty in your pictures. I could look at them all day!!

  13. Maria F. says:

    Great post Donna! I truly enjoyed your images, so full of winter’s beauty, with so many songbirds and beautiful trees. It’s amazing when you say that sound waves are absorbed and dampened by the snow, it’s almost as if nature truly wanted to silence noisy humans a bit! Many truths in this post, thanks you!

  14. So beautiful. I spent a bit of time outside this weekend, too. A sunny, windless day in winter isn’t bad. In fact, it can be rather pleasant. And the fresh air is rejuvenating.

  15. I love walking through the snow when my footprints are the only thing that disturb this new surface, when the world is absolutely quite, and totally still.

  16. Your writing and thoughts are wonderful, as are your pictures. Thanks.

  17. Many years ago I lived in an apartment near a highway — the traffic noise was a problem. But when I woke up in the morning I always knew if it snowed in the night by the muted noise of passing cars.

    You have the knack of finding the utmost beauty in nature with your pictures, Donna. This posting is a great stress reliever. Love the views on your recent Niagra Falls posting too. BTW — only one significant snowfall here this winter and most of it has gone. P. x

    • Thank you Pam. Traffic noise is the worst. Where you live now, that is just a memory. My uncle lives there too, and his place is always quiet and peaceful. Glad for the PA update. I have been wondering if you got a lot of snow.

  18. Very interesting post. I love the quiet sound that snow creates, it’s very peaceful and the cracks of the footsteps are very soothing. I hope I will experience it next year.. unfortunately, I think spring is already around the corner.

  19. Karen says:

    The snow is like a soft blanket that muffles everything except the squeaky sound made when you walk on it. I miss the sweet little birds that I enjoyed when we lived in New Hampshire so I thoroughly enjoyed your photos.

  20. What a lovely and quietly absorbing post. I used to love snow days when schools closed. Typical of snow in the UK! Here there are photos of our Spanish village covered in snow, but only for 3 days. There hasn’t been any sign of snow now for several winters here in Southern Spain.

    • Snow has been pretty regular the last few years, but this year we are well below average so far. I just think the weather has been too volatile worldwide. The ups and downs are disconcerting. It is getting hard on wildlife I am guessing.

      • Yes, also here and it affects different creatures in different ways. It seems it’s hard for some owls to fly when it’s too wet. They like us need a bit of a break from this constant rainy but mild weather.

  21. Fabulous post. I too love the insulation snow gives to plants, and how it quiets the landscape.

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