n Why is there more static electricity in the winter than in the summer?

Static electricity depends on the buildup of isolated electrical differences between two objects. The sudden movement of a difference results in an electrical shock. The air needs to be dry, as moist air is conductive and allows charges to dissipate. Drier air allows more isolated charges to build, because there are fewer water molecules to conduct a charge away from an object. In the winter, when we heat our homes and offices, humidity is very low which means the buildup of electrical charges is greater, thus we experience more “shocks” in the winter than the summer.

n What is airmail and do people still use it?

According to the United States Post Office, “air mail” applies only to international mail service. Years ago, people had to specify that they wanted a letter or package to go by air (airplane), even when they shipped it within the country, but today most domestic mail travels by air since that’s the most efficient method. But, international mail can go by boat or plane. If you are mailing a letter overseas, it usually goes by air, even if you don’t identify it as “air mail” on the envelope. However, if you’re mailing a package and want it sent by air, you do have to note “air mail” and pay a little more. Airmail does get the package overseas more quickly than a boat would; however, there is no guarantee on delivery dates for airmail. Even though some people may opt for an overnight service when sending something international, the USPS still handles millions of airmail requests.

n How big can snowflakes get?

A: This is a great question. After doing some research, we found that there are agreed-upon averages for snowflake measurements, but the exact answer of how big a snowflake can get is still unknown. Snowflakes are actually collections of many snow crystals. On average, a snowflake is usually less than one-half inch across; however, under certain weather conditions, snowflakes can be much larger, close to two inches across.

n When was the big ice storm that hit northern New England several years ago?

A: You must be referring to the Jan. 8-10, 1998, ice storm that paralyzed northern New England, Quebec and New Brunswick, Canada. This storm was the worst ice storm of the century across these areas.

Numerous power lines, heavy with ice, fell, which caused power outages to hundreds of thousands of people. In fact, the Farmers’ Almanac headquarters had to close for one day due to no power. Some people were without heat and electricity for more than two weeks.

If you have a question for the Farmers’ Almanac write to Farmers’ Almanac, P.O. Box 1609, Lewiston, ME 04241 or e-mail: [email protected]

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