SNOWPOCALYPSE 2011 (or Hey, It Snowed A Little in Oklahoma City)

Yeah, that’s right kids – we have some snow here in Oklahoma City!

(To be fair, I did think it was a great idea yesterday in the middle of the morning’s storm to get stuck between the parking lot of Dunkin Donuts and a big ass pile of snow.  Yeah.  It really was worth it.)

Here’s a non-sequitur – something I thought would be interesting to talk about today while Oklahoma City assumes it got some real snowfall is snow blindness.  Have you ever heard of this phenomenon?  Snow blindness is a slang term for a condition called photokeratitis – which is caused by overexposure to ultraviolet light, typically from sunlight reflected off of the snow.  Have you ever had a snow suntan or snow sunburn?  Snow blindness is generally the same thing, except photokeratitis is basically like a sunburn of the cornea and conjunctiva (that outer membrane of the actual eyeball that contains blood vessels, etcetera).

The interesting thing about snow blindness is that it’s just a common ailment for people in the snow and in high elevations.  It also happens with welders (they call it “Arc Eye”).  From Wikipedia:

Any intense exposure to UV light can lead to photokeratitis.  Common causes include welders who have failed to use adequate eye protection such as an appropriate welding helmet or welding goggles.  This is termed arc eye, while photokeratitis caused by exposure to sunlight reflected from ice and snow, particularly at elevation, is commonly called snow blindness.  It can also occur due to using tanning beds without proper eyewear.  Natural sources include bright sunlight reflected from snow or ice or, less commonly, from sea or sand.  Fresh snow reflects about 80% of the UV radiation compared to a dry, sandy beach (15%) or sea foam (25%).  This is especially a problem in polar regions and at high altitudes, as with every thousand feet (approximately 305 meters) of elevation (above sea level), the intensity of UV rays increases by four percent.

Well, how do you like that?  My favorite scientific name for snow blindness (and it actually does have a lot of names) is keratoconjunctivitis photoelectrica.  HOT!

I like shadows.  Here’s a picture of a shadow of me in the snow fall:

3 replies
  1. Beth
    Beth says:

    I was sporting flip flops and a tee shirt yesterday – I have no idea why anyone would want to be landlocked and cold when there are places to avoid snowmageddon ;-)

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