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Snow Days

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

While it’s still dark in Anchorage, Alaska, Karen Cunningham puts on warm clothes and goes out in the snow. “It’s pitch-black, and these white things are just floating down so gently,” she says. A record-setting amount has hit Anchorage.

On January 29, the city reached 100 inches of snowfall sooner than any year before.

What exactly makes snow so special? Trevor Harley wrote a book about weather. Snow, he believes, is one of the most beautiful things we see in our lifetime. 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. It’s nice to look at. Plus, “You can feel it, you can taste it, there’s a certain smell to it,” she says. “The sound of snow just floating down . . . is so healing.” Research suggests a couple inches of snow can absorb 60% of sound. For a time, it really does make the world a more peaceful place.