Pogonip...

I have learned this cool word- POGONIP- after moving to Tahoe. It doesn't even seem real but it is a playable word in Scrabble and can get you 62+ points. Proof indeed.

While our current 'heat wave' is not conducive to this weather phenomenon, I saw this license plate that made me think of pogonip. It is also called ice fog, a type of fog consisting of fine ice crystals suspended in the air. It can happen only in cold areas of the world since water can remain liquid down to -40 °F. It should be distinguished from diamond dust, a precipitation of sparse ice crystals falling from a clear sky (which we have also seen since moving here).
The name pogonip is an English adaptation of the Shoshone word meaning "cloud" (payinappih). The English-speaking settlers, who encountered this unpleasant and sometimes scary phenomenon when they went out West in the 1800s, needed a word for it so they borrowed it from local populations. So popular, they even made postcards depicting it (c.1907).
Supposedly, western Native Americans called it "frozen death" because it took so many lives from upper respiratory infections. Here in Tahoe we call it "breathtaking" when it settles on the trees and makes for beautiful photographs. I love new words.

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