Weather Forecast


Weather: There's a word for that

The Sami People of northern Europe have hundreds of words for snow. As I watched my ruler disappear into the snow in my backyard last Saturday, I uttered many words - none of which exist in the North Sami language.

The consensus among area ruler plunkers was that Bemidji received 8 inches of snow from the most recent storm. After area golfers were able to practice hitting out of bunkers Thursday, I believe the return of winter weather qualifies as a rude awakening. Area cross country skiers were equally inconvenienced after mothballing their skis for the season. However, no complaints were received from area spelunkers.

The English language is limited when it comes to winter weather words. The Sami language is much more descriptive. In English we say "The snow fell heavily and stuck to things." The Sami have a word for that: goahpalat. We describe a thin layer of ice that forms on top of the snow after the sun has thawed the top of the snow during the day. There's a Sami word for that: skavvi. The next time you end up in a ditch after sliding on a layer of new snow on the road you could simply utter the Sami word "vahca" to the trooper when he taps on your window and asks what happened. Just don't call him "rudni." If the trooper speaks Sami, you could wind up in the slammer.

Now that Lake Bemidji is covered in ravda and the muohta has become jassa there is an English word that perfectly sums it up: Hooray!

Tom Siemers is the Pioneer's circulation manager. He will write about one of his passions -- the weather -- on Saturdays in the Pioneer. Email Tom at