Why Is the Night Sky So Bright When It Snows in Minnesota?
We're only a couple of days removed from our latest
winter spring storm, but this is something I've noticed for a while now-- how bright the sky seems the night of a snowstorm here in Minnesota. So what's up with that? As my wife and I were heading to bed Monday night after having shoveled our driveway...AGAIN... we noticed how light it seemed outside, even though it was around 10 p.m. And, it wasn't just this storm, either-- I've noticed how light (or bright) the night sky seems after it snows. (It's so bright sometimes, it seems like you don't even have to turn on our driveway or garage lights to see what you're shoveling.)
Have you noticed the same thing? As it turns out, the night sky IS brighter and lighter after a snowstorm hits the Bold North. And, there's a fairly simple scientific explanation for it too.
This GO-MN story explains what happens after it snows: "We have our street lights, and when you have snow on the ground, that reflects a lot of light upwards into the atmosphere," Jacob Beitlich, a meteorologist from the NWS-Twin Cities, said in the story.
But wait, there's more: "If you have snow falling, all those tiny ice crystals scatter (reflects) a lot of that light, and a lot of it gets scattered back down to the ground," Beitlich said in the story.
He also noted that low clouds usually associated with a snow event tend to reflect the light back down to earth-- when, without the clouds, the light usually just escapes out in the atmosphere (and things look much darker outside.) He called the phenomenon the "scattering of light."
So, yeah. Sounds simple, but it's a real thing. And now you know why.