by Anna Cavallo, Editor

Snowpocalypse. Snowapallooza. Snownami. snOMG. MinneSNOWta. Yes, when a blizzard keeps you at home for 24 hours or more, the creative terms start flowing. (And thanks, Ian Leonard, for collecting all those neologisms!)

Sure, the photo above of my unplowed street on Sunday, about 12 hours after the blizzard ended, hardly looks apocalyptic. It was sunny and a balmy –2 degrees F. But try to dig your car out and get it up the hill, and another adjective—Sisyphean—may come to mind. I didn’t have a camera with me during the actual storm, but it basically looked like this:

When I edited this title in the Disasters Up Close series a few years ago, I learned what makes a blizzard a blizzard: extreme cold, winds of at least 35mph, and visibility of 0.25 miles or less for three hours or more. I also learned about Minnesota’s Armistice Day blizzard back in 1940. That dangerous storm blew in quickly, and many duck hunters and drivers who were out enjoying some unseasonably warm weather were caught unprepared. Of course, we now have such advanced forecasting technology that we all had plenty of warning, but anyone who thought their SUV could beat the snow faced the same dangers as 70 years ago. Wind gusts of 50mph created whiteout conditions and shaped massive drifts even after the snow stopped falling. The Department of Transportation reported 127 crashes and 507 spinouts or cars off the road in the metro.

Impressively, our storm actually beat the Armistice Day Blizzard in total snowfall. In fact, last weekend’s blizzard brought in the fifth biggest dumping of snow in the Twin Cities’ history:

1. 28.4 inches: 1991 October 31 – November 3 (Halloween Blizzard)
2. 21.1 inches: 1985 November 29 – December 1
3. 20.0 inches: 1982 January 22 – 23
4. 17.4 inches: 1982 January 20 – 21
5. 17.1 inches: 2010 December 10 – 11
6. 16.8 inches: 1940 November 11 – 12 (Armistice Day)

And those 17 inches are what Minneapolis has been trying to manage ever since Sunday. This is what some of the mountains in downtown looked like on Monday evening:

Left: Note how it almost reaches the streetlight banner.

Below: Newspaper stands thrown helter-skelter by the wind, the snow, or the plows… who knows which.

Whether your young readers learn about snow firsthand on a daily basis, like we do, or only through books and TV, Lerner has many other titles to help them understand the how and why of snow. Check out Blizzards in the Pull Ahead – Forces of Nature series for grades K-3; or Vapor, Rain, and Snow for an upper-elementary look at the science of precipitation; or Snowboarding for a look at an action-packed way to take advantage of the snow and cold.

For even more snow-related nonfiction and picture books, visit us at So even if you’re in the tropics—in which case I’m jealous—your students can have a leg up on Bambi when it comes to “that white stuff”.