The 20th Solar Term: Minor Snow  

Every Nov 22 or Nov 23 is Minor Snow, when sun reaches longitude 240 °. The Collection of the 72 Hou says that “in the middle of the 10th month of the solar calendar, because of the cold air, the raindrops condense into snow when fall. It is the Minor Snow. ” In this solar term, the weather turns cold. In the lower and middle reaches of the Yellow River, the average time of the first snow is in Minor Snow solar term. The snow is light and frozen in nights, but melts quickly in the days. Only when a cold front hits a warm, wet front will there be heavy snow. From Nov 15 to Nov 20 in 1993, for example, there was heavy snow in some winter wheat areas in northern China.

Around Minor Snow, agricultural production in most parts of China involves winter management and irrigation. It has usually already been a hard winter in the areas north of the Yellow River. In this solar term, the first snow in the northern China, although light, reminds people that it is time to keep warm. In Minor Snow, the weather is chilly and cloudy, which will influence people’s mood, especially those suffering from depression. Because this solar term has less sunshine, and people must make extra efforts to keep healthy.

Minor Snow is in the later half of November and the later half of the tenth lunar month. Its name reflects the weather phenomena that occur in it. The ancient book Qunfang Pu says that “in Minor Snow, the weather is cold enough that it will snow soon, although the ground is not frozen and there will not be heavy snow.” As winter comes, the temperature drops, dew turns to frost, raindrops become snowflakes. But because the weather is not cold enough, the snow will partially melt or will melt immediately when it hits the ground. This type of snow is called called “wet snow” in meteorology. Sometimes there is sleet or granular snow. The precipitation is still not enough for winter wheat in this solar term and there is more morning mist in Minor Snow than during the previous solar term.

In Minor Snow, the north parts of the southern areas of China begin to entering winter. In this season, “the lotus flower is gone and there is no rain cover in the lake. The chrysanthemums have withered while there are still some frostbitten twigs”. Because the Qinling and Daba mountains in the north block the cold air, winter in the southern areas of China is relatively warm. There are not usually more than 5 days of snow a year and much less than that in areas on the middle and lower reaches of Yangtze River. Before Great Snow, there few chance to see the snow. In fact, even in the coldest days, it is hard for the southerners to appreciate the idea that snow comes as “myriads of pear trees burst into blossom”, Because in the south the surface temperature remains above the 0℃ and the accumulation of snow is impossible. In the cold northwest plateau, however, it begins to snow in October. In a year, may be more than 60 days of snow in the northwest. And in some alpine areas, there may be year-round snow.


Translated by Zhang Min

Editor: Wen Yi

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