Winter Vocabulary (Part One)

Winter has finally arrived in Atlanta. In fact, we recently experienced a weekend of snow, a rare event in the American South. With that in mind, here is a list of words for the winter season. This list focuses on the nature of winter and the hazards associated with it. Next time we’ll look at words that describe ways that you can have fun during the winter season.


Snow: The white frozen water vapor that falls to the ground as a white later. The northern American states experience heavy snowfall during the winter months. However, snow is rare in the southern states.


Snowflake: The feathery ice crystals that make up snow. Snowflakes have intricate designs, with each flake taking on its own unique pattern.


Blizzard: A heavy snowstorm in which visibility is limited and road conditions hazardous.


Sleet: A mixture of snow and rain.


Ice: Frozen water. Snow and ice on the roads makes for hazardous driving conditions.


Freeze: The act of the temperature dropping below the point where water turns to ice.  An overnight freeze can be dangerous, especially after snow has started to melt. The water from the snow can turn to ice, including black ice.


Black ice: A transparent coating of ice. Driving when there is black ice on the roads is extremely dangerous because the ice blends in with the rest of the road.


Salt and sand: Special salt and sand are spread on the roads to help melt ice and snow, making driving on winter roads much safer.


Snow plow: A special vehicle that pushes snow off the roads.


Snow chains: Special chains that are attached to the wheels of vehicles. Snow chains provide increased traction on icy roads.


Wind chill: The effect of the wind making the air feel colder than the actual temperature.


Snowmageddon/snowpocalypse: These words are combinations of “snow” and “Armageddon” and “apocalypse,” words meaning the end of the word. They are used to describe severe winter weather conditions.  “Snowmageddon” and “snowpocalypse” are relative terms. The 2013 and 2014 Atlanta snow storms are often described as “snowpocalypses,” even though the conditions were relatively mild compared to a typical storm in the North.

Snow day: A day when businesses and schools are closed or let out early because of snow. A day with snow is almost always a “snow day” in Atlanta because the South does not have the resources to deal with even a light snowfall.