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Snow Days

SNOWMONSTER A 20-foot-tall snowman looms over Anchorage, Alaska, in January. MARK THIESSEN

It’s still dark in Anchorage, Alaska. Karen Cunningham puts on warm clothes. Then she goes out in the snow. “It’s pitch-black,” she says. “These white things are just floating down so gently.”

A record-setting amount has hit Anchorage. On January 29, the city reached 100 inches of snowfall. That’s sooner than any year before.

What makes snow special? Trevor Harley wrote a book about weather. Snow, he says, is one of the most beautiful things we see. For many people, Harley says, snow brings up good memories: of snow days, fun, and holidays. “It makes us happy,” he says.

Snow also engages our senses, Cunningham says. “You can feel it, you can taste it,” she says. Plus, research suggests snow can absorb 60% of sound. For a time, it makes the world a more peaceful place.