The sound of silence: Why it’s quieter after a snowstorm

Have you ever noticed it gets quieter after a snowstorm?

Maybe it's the lack of people driving on the snow-covered roads or the calm as you watch the snowflakes peacefully fall, but the silence after a snowstorm isn’t something that you’re imagining. Science shows that it is indeed quieter after a snowstorm. 

Just like insulation that reduces sound in your home, snowflakes do the same and capture the sound outside.

Right after the snow falls is when it’s quietest, especially if you’ve had the light and fluffy snowfall.

The light and fluffy snowflakes, or dendrites, are large ice crystals with branches and side branches. The open area between these branches serves as more area to capture sound waves.

A study by the University of Kentucky showed that a couple of inches of snow absorbs approximately 60% of sound. 

Once the snow has had a chance to compact or melt, the opposite happens. The ice reflects sound waves rather than absorbing them. All those tiny open spaces within those snowflakes are gone, and it ends up being louder due to the reflection. 

So, the next time you get a snowstorm, take a moment to enjoy the brief serenity of the freshly fallen snow before having to grab the shovel.