Hey if you missed part one, read it here : The White Foliage Phenomenon : Hoar Frost

Something that you probably didn’t know about hoar frost is that as beautiful as it is, it’s also very deadly. Hoar frost has killed 5 – 25 people every year for the past 6 years in Canada alone with higher numbers in the states via avalanches. Avalanches can be caused when a layer of hoar frost forms on the surface of snow before a new layer of snow falls on top. If this frost doesn’t thaw enough to become sticky and conjoin the fresh snow to the old, wind can cause it to break off and form a thin loose layer on which the new snow sits waiting for a strong wind or shake to dislodge it. The deadly amount of snow then slides across these loose frost flakes downhill gathering more snow with unstoppable momentum.

Not only is hoar frost a threat to humans in this manner but also to the plants in your yard. Anything more than a light frost will kill most plants due to the expansion of the water within the cell walls as it freezes. They essentially explode the cells from the inside, enough of which will kill the plant. A strong frost like this that kills even some of the hardiest of vegetation is known as a “Killing frost” and although there are some stories where spraying your plants with water* before sunrise might be able to save them from light frost, there is really no way to protect your plants other than bringing them inside.

On the lighter side, hoar frost that has been broken off in a similar fashion to that of avalanches but in colder climates such as Antarctica can create ice resembling dust particles that roll and stick together over time.  This essentially creates the ice equivalent of a tumbleweed or dust bunnies. These are called Yukimarimo after the Japanese word for snow “Yuki” and “marimo” which is a ball-like growth of water algae that holds a similar form.

As always we here at Growing Society hope you’ve learned something new and that your friends aren’t as immature as mine were when you try to explain to them what hoar frost is. Have a great weekend!

*Note* – We couldn’t find any journals or evidence that this works other than accounts of those who have done it. We strongly recommend researching this a little before trying it.

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