In certain parts of the northern and southern hemispheres, winter is the coldest season of the year. It is marked by falling snow and bitterly cold temperatures, which are also intensified by strong winds. The winter-affected location is the furthest away from the sun in the earth’s orbit around it, which causes the season to last about three months.
During this time, most schools are closed, although business in offices slows and schedules are rearranged according to seasonal whims. The days are shorter and the nights are longer during this time, although this normally reverses as the season progresses. On winter mornings, the sun rises late and is not particularly warm.
Most people wait until daylight to go outside; in the mornings and evenings, they prefer to stay by the fire. In the winter, everyone recognizes the value of the weather forecast because the details they provide will mean the difference between providing proper protective gear and freezing to death, knowing whether the roads will be navigable tomorrow morning, or knowing whether the night’s blizzard has forced them to cancel engagements.
On winter mornings, most people get up to shovel snow out of their streets. Snow and strong winds have closed highways, grounded planes, and even frozen rivers for days, weeks, and months on some, especially extreme occasions.
People wear heavy winter clothing to stay warm and fend off the cold. Winter clothing has developed over the years, and today patterns and designs are integrated into it, far from the tattered animal skin that early man in these areas used to shield himself from the same harsh weather.
Several outdoor and recreational events have been developed in winter-affected areas of the world to take advantage of the weather and provide people with an opportunity to exercise and have fun. Curling, ice skating, ice racing, ice carving, ice hockey, ice fishing, ice climbing, ice boating, and other winter sports are traditional and done every year (some depending on the ice level).
Winter affects plants and animals in different ways. Some animals, such as birds, migrate as the winter season approaches, returning only in the summer, to ensure food supply because most of their food supplies freeze in the winter.
Others go into hibernation, a sleep-like state in which the animal remains inactive, normally confined to a shell, before summer arrives. Some animals collect and store food in large quantities in preparation for the winter months, when the supplies of food are depleted and collecting impossible. Some animals have adapted to the weather by growing thick furs that keep them warm throughout this season, while others, such as the snowshoe hare, change their color to white and blend in with the snow as a survival strategy.