Snizzley Weather Defined

The weather has a bad case of the snizzles this week. Not sniffles, but "snizzles". Tony has a whimsical blog tonight about the "dandruffy" snow.

“Snizzley” Start to March

Don’t look it up in the dictionary. There is no such word as “snizzle”, so says my Webster’s unabridged (which by the way I keep at my computer terminal all the time). To my knowledge, the origin of the “snizzle slang” dates back to my days at Penn State.

Back in 1981, a group of meteorology students gathered at the State College, Pa. Rathskeller to plot our careers and talk weather. There were as many cold fronts chatted about as football games relived. Somewhere in between banters around legendary snowstorms and our trips to the Creamery (Ice Cream shop in the middle of campus where every day we would walk a half mile for a double dip), someone called the very light snow falling on College avenue “snizzle”.

Now for the teetotalers in the audience, the “Skeller” is your typical college “hole in the wall” bar where the beer flows freely and the smoke (back in 1981 smoking was allowed) hovers over the portraits of Penn State football stars that hang from the walls. (My fav is Lydell Mitchell, star running back from the 1960s, when my love of Penn State football and weather were fostered).

As to who coined the phrase “snizzle”, I am not sure. Perhaps a better question is how many libations the author had that night? “Snizzle” just sounds like a concoction of a student who has had one too many.

But the term has stood the test of time and to this day my fellow Nittany Lion meteorology chums use the “word” snizzle on the air. From the Twin Cities (Paul D.) to Atlanta (Mike S.) and from the Pa Dutch Country (Joe C.) to Huntington-Charleston (Tony C.), we have made the “S” word a colloquial expression every winter.

To understand snizzle, let’s take Charleston as a case study! Light snow flurries have now fallen for 24 straight hours in Charleston with no new accumulation. The overnight dusting that occurred this morning will again greet the new dawn of Thursday. Sure it has snowed, but if I called today a “snow day” you would probably scoff and say, “it’s didn’t snow today it……snizzled”.

So far this season Charleston has measured 60 inches of “real” snow at Yeager airport. There have been snow storms and snow squalls, snow showers and snow bursts. But the past 2 days and again on Thursday, it just seems the snow flurries that fell in drizzle form deserve their own moniker; namely, snizzle!

So here’s a tip of the cap to “Skeller” bartender and fellow meteorology major, Joe Calhoun. Since Joe took care of his meteo compadres on Saturday night, let’s credit him with the saying “snizzle”.

By the way, if you visit the “Skeller” the traditional order is “give me a case of Rocks”. In a matter of seconds, your cute waitress will bring you a case of Rolling Rock Ponies. In Penn State circles, that order ranks up there with Blotto’s “have a brew, don’t cost nothing” line from Animal House.
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