🖊 National Snow and Ice Data Center 📸 W.P. Armstrong

While many think that snow is either white or blue, its ‘colors’ range from yellow and orange to green and even purple, but…believe it or not, snow is actually colorless. According to the National Snow and Ice Data Center, “the complex structure of snow crystals results in countless tiny surfaces from which visible light is efficiently reflected. What little sunlight is absorbed by snow is absorbed uniformly over the wavelengths of visible light thus giving snow its white appearance.” Cold-tolerant algae are small, photosynthetic organisms which grow on snow and ice in the polar and alpine regions. Different strains of algae can color the snow yellow, red, orange, brown, green. Of course, the snow acquires its color after it has fallen. On a freezing cold morning in 2010, citizens of Stavropol, Russia woke up to multi-colored snow lining their streets. People were stunned when they saw light-purple and brown snow piled up. Others who heard the story may have thought it was a hoax, but scientists investigating the matter confirmed that there was a snowfall consisting of a multitude of colors. It wasn’t toxic, but the experts warned that it wouldn’t be wise to ingest any of the snow as it was most likely contaminated by dust all the way from Africa. The dust reached dizzying heights in the upper atmosphere where it mingled in with normal snow clouds. This interaction is what caused the beautifully colored snow to fall. That wasn’t the first time it happened — in 1912, black snow fell over Alaska and Canada. The black color was thanks to volcanic ash and rocks that also mingled with snow clouds.