12 Places That Rarely See Snow

iStock
iStock

Snowbirds, take note: If a winter season completely devoid of snow sounds like your idea of heaven, these 12 places are calling your name. Though they do get the occasional dusting, once every few decades is definitely more novelty than nuisance.

1. ROME, ITALY

Rome gets a dusting every few years, but heavy snow that sticks happens only once every 25 years or so. When it happened in 2012, the snow did some damage to the Colosseum, forcing officials to close the historic monument for inspection.

2. MIAMI, FLORIDA

In 1977, a cold wave swept through Florida, causing snow flurries for the first and time in the recorded history of many towns, including Miami. The only time it had happened before was in 1899, and that was in Fort Pierce—130 miles north. While Miamians were charmed by the snow, workers in the state's citrus and vegetable industry weren't so thrilled; the snow and cold weather wiped them out, costing at least 150,000 people their jobs.

3. THE SAHARA DESERT

The Sahara isn't always dry—the desert experiences snow storms on extremely rare occasions, including December 19, 2016, when snow stuck to the sand dunes in Ain Sefra, Algeria, for about a day.

The white stuff ended a 37-year snowless spell for the region; the last time the Sahara saw snow that stuck was February 1979, and it only lasted for 30 minutes.

4. SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA

Though the only recorded snowfall in Sydney's history happened close to 200 years ago, there was a close call in 2007. However, the tiny white precipitation turned out to be "soft hail," not snow. In fact, some historians think the 1836 event may also have been hail. "Two hundred years ago they may not have been that well trained and it was probably small hail," said Peter Zmijewsk, senior forecaster at the Bureau of Meteorology.

5. BAGHDAD, IRAQ

Although it's not uncommon to see snow in northern Iraq, snow took a 100-year hiatus from Baghdad before deciding to show itself again in 2008. Most of it melted as soon as it hit the ground, but citizens were still pleasantly surprised.

6. LISBON, PORTUGAL

Prior to January 2006, it had been more than a half-century since Lisbon had last seen snowfall. Many highways and roads were closed in central and south Portugal during the storm of 2006; one town even lost power.

7. MALIBU, CALIFORNIA

Snow in the mountains of California is expected, but snow in Malibu is pretty rare. The last measurable amount was during a cold snap at the end of 2008 that also hit Las Vegas.

8. LAS VEGAS, NEVADA

It used to be a rarity to see snow falling on the Palms or the Bellagio, but it seems to be happening about once a year now. The snow is brief and often melts as fast as it falls, but in December 2008, enough stuck around to make it a pretty newsworthy event.

9. BUENOS AIRES, ARGENTINA

If you could happily go 89 years without seeing snow, Buenos Aires might be the place for you; Snow was a stranger to the city from June 22, 1918, through July 9, 2007.

10. SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA

The mountains in San Diego County see snow every year, but San Diego proper hasn't had measurable snowfall since 1967. Flakes have floated through the air on occasion, even on a memorable Christmas Eve in 1987—but nothing like the amount they got in '67. It was so much, one resident reported, that some kids managed to go sledding.

11. HAWAII

It snows pretty much annually in Hawaii—even enough to go skiing. To see the rare event, however, you'll have to go up: The white stuff only sticks around at the top of Mauna Loa, Mauna Kea, and Haleakala. In fact, Mauna Kea was blanketed in snow in December 2016.

12. NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA

Just 17 "snow events" have been recorded in NOLA from 1853 to 2008. Nothing compares to the snow of 1895; residents were flummoxed to find themselves snowed in with more than 8 inches of snow on the ground.

10 Rad Gifts for Hikers

Greg Rosenke/Unsplash
Greg Rosenke/Unsplash

The popularity of bird-watching, camping, and hiking has skyrocketed this year. Whether your gift recipients are weekend warriors or seasoned dirtbags, they'll appreciate these tools and gear for getting most out of their hiking experience.

1. Stanley Nesting Two-Cup Cookset; $14

Amazon

Stanley’s compact and lightweight cookset includes a 20-ounce stainless steel pot with a locking handle, a vented lid, and two insulated 10-ounce tumblers. It’s the perfect size for brewing hot coffee, rehydrating soup, or boiling water while out on the trail with a buddy. And as some hardcore backpackers note in their Amazon reviews, your favorite hiker can take the tumblers out and stuff the pot with a camp stove, matches, and other necessities to make good use of space in their pack.

Buy it: Amazon

2. Osprey Sirrus and Stratos 24-Liter Hiking Packs; $140

Amazon

Osprey’s packs are designed with trail-tested details to maximize comfort and ease of use. The Sirrus pack (pictured) is sized for women, while the Stratos fits men’s proportions. Both include an internal sleeve for a hydration reservoir, exterior mesh and hipbelt pockets, an attachment for carrying trekking poles, and a built-in rain cover.

Buy them: Amazon, Amazon

3. Yeti Rambler 18-Ounce Bottle; $48

Amazon

Nothing beats ice-cold water after a summer hike or a sip of hot tea during a winter walk. The Yeti Rambler can serve up both: Beverages can stay hot or cold for hours thanks to its insulated construction, and its steel body (in a variety of colors) is basically indestructible. It will add weight to your hiker's pack, though—for a lighter-weight, non-insulated option, the tried-and-true Camelbak Chute water bottle is incredibly sturdy and leakproof.

Buy it: Amazon

4. Mappinners Greatest 100 Hikes of the National Parks Scratch-Off Poster; $30

Amazon

The perfect gift for park baggers in your life (or yourself), this 16-inch-by-20-inch poster features epic hikes like Angel’s Landing in Zion National Park and Half Dome in Yosemite National Park. Once the hike is complete, you can scratch off the gold foil to reveal an illustration of the park.

Buy it: Amazon

5. National Geographic Adventure Edition Road Atlas; $19

Amazon

Hikers can use this brand-new, updated road atlas to plan their next adventure. In addition to comprehensive maps of all 50 states, Puerto Rico, Canada, and Mexico, they'll get National Geographic’s top 100 outdoor destinations, useful details about the most popular national parks, and points on the maps noting off-the-beaten-path places to explore.  

Buy it: Amazon

6. Adventure Medical Kits Hiker First-Aid Kit; $25

Amazon

This handy 67-piece kit is stuffed with all the things you hope your hiker will never need in the wilderness. Not only does it contain supplies for pain, cuts and scrapes, burns, and blisters (every hiker’s nemesis!), the items are organized clearly in the bag to make it easy to find tweezers or an alcohol wipe in an emergency.

Buy it: Amazon

7. Hiker Hunger Ultralight Trekking Poles; $70

Amazon

Trekking poles will help increase your hiker's balance and stability and reduce strain on their lower body by distributing it to their arms and shoulders. This pair is made of carbon fiber, a super-strong and lightweight material. From the sweat-absorbing cork handles to the selection of pole tips for different terrain, these poles answer every need on the trail. 

Buy it: Amazon

8. Leatherman Signal Camping Multitool; $120

Amazon

What can’t this multitool do? This gadget contains 19 hiking-friendly tools in a 4.5-inch package, including pliers, screwdrivers, bottle opener, saw, knife, hammer, wire cutter, and even an emergency whistle.

Buy it: Amazon

9. RAVPower Power Bank; $24

Amazon

Don’t let your hiker get caught off the grid with a dead phone. They can charge RAVPower’s compact power bank before they head out on the trail, and then use it to quickly juice up a phone or tablet when the batteries get low. Its 3-inch-by-5-inch profile won’t take up much room in a pack or purse.

Buy it: Amazon

10. Pack of Four Indestructible Field Books; $14

Amazon

Neither rain, nor snow, nor hail will be a match for these waterproof, tearproof 3.5-inch-by-5.5-inch notebooks. Your hiker can stick one in their pocket along with a regular pen or pencil to record details of their hike or brainstorm their next viral Tweet.

Buy it: Amazon

Sign Up Today: Get exclusive deals, product news, reviews, and more with the Mental Floss Smart Shopping newsletter!

This article contains affiliate links to products selected by our editors. Mental Floss may receive a commission for purchases made through these links.

8 Fascinating Facts About Kurt Russell

Kurt Russell speaking at the 2016 San Diego Comic-Con International.
Kurt Russell speaking at the 2016 San Diego Comic-Con International.
Gage Skidmore via Flickr // CC BY-SA 2.0

From his turn as antihero Snake Plissken in 1981’s Escape From New York to Western lawman Wyatt Earp in 1993’s Tombstone, Kurt Russell has endured as one of the more versatile leading men in Hollywood. For more on Russell, including his early athletic ambitions and playing Elvis Presley, keep reading.

1. Kurt Russell originally had his sights set on being a professional baseball player.

On March 17, 1951, Kurt Russell was born in Springfield, Massachusetts, to parents Bing and Louise Russell, but grew up in Thousand Oaks, California. He took heavy inspiration from his father, himself an actor and later owner of a minor league baseball team, the Portland Mavericks. In addition to acting in family films for The Walt Disney Company like 1969’s The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes and 1975’s The Strongest Man in the World, Russell was also pursuing a career in professional baseball. In 1971, he joined the Bend Rainbows and later played for his father’s Mavericks. When a shoulder injury halted his athletic ambitions in 1973, he began focusing on acting full-time.

The news was not broken to him so gently. Remembering the doctor who told him his shoulder would end his baseball career, Russell remembered him asking, “Aren’t you also an actor?” When Russell said he was, the doctor said, “Well, you’re an actor all the time now.”

2. Kurt Russell passed up a chance to be in Star Wars to do a television Western.

When George Lucas was casting Star Wars in 1975, he saw a number of actors, including Russell, who auditioned for both Han Solo and Luke Skywalker. Russell was interested in the film, but later said that he was also being offered a role on a television Western called The Quest around the same time and asked Lucas if he could make a decision about whether he wanted Russell in the movie—and if so, in which part.

“I don’t know which part I prefer you in,” Russell recalled Lucas as saying. “I don’t know if I like you as Han and this guy as Skywalker, or this guy as Han and you as Skywalker. I don’t know.” When Lucas couldn’t give him an answer, Russell opted to do The Quest.

3. Kurt Russell was nominated for an Emmy for playing Elvis Presley.

Following his string of Disney films, Russell began tackling more mature roles, including the title character in the 1979 television miniseries Elvis directed by Halloween filmmaker John Carpenter. Playing Elvis Presley earned Russell an Emmy Award nomination and also marked the beginning of his working relationship with Carpenter, who cast Russell in 1981’s Escape From New York, 1995’s sequel Escape From L.A., and 1982’s The Thing, among others.

The King has followed Russell around, or vice versa. Russell had a small part in an Elvis film while as a child actor, appearing in 1963’s It Happened at the World’s Fair. In 2001, he appeared as a criminal who was also an Elvis impersonator in 3000 Miles to Graceland. Most notably, he agreed to dub over an actor playing Presley in 1994’s Forrest Gump as a favor to Robert Zemeckis, who directed Russell in 1980’s Used Cars.

4. Bull Durham was written for Kurt Russell.

If you’ve ever wondered why a former baseball player like Russell never made a baseball movie, he came close. Writer and director Ron Shelton wrote 1988’s Bull Durham, about an aging slugger named Crash Davis, specifically for Russell. The studio, however, insisted that Shelton cast Kevin Costner instead.

5. Kurt Russell was paid twice his going rate for Stargate because he was considered impossible to dislike.

Kurt Russell in Stargate (1994).Lionsgate Home Entertainment

It’s often been said of Russell that he possesses an inherent likeability. Perhaps audiences won’t like every film he appears in, but they like the actor himself. According to Russell, that was once backed by research. Recalling that the producers of 1994’s science-fiction movie Stargate offered him twice his going rate to secure his services, he cited audience satisfaction as the reason why. “They said, ‘Oh, well, we ran a questionnaire around the world,’” Russell told GQ in 2016. “They wanted to rate actors on their unlikeability. They wanted to find someone who was likeable because the part, as written, was not. And they said, ‘You know the only star out there who has zero unlikeability?’ ‘Kurt Russell.’ Zero unlikeability!” Russell added that the research was done a long time ago and “that number may have changed significantly.”

6. Kurt Russell may have stealth-directed Tombstone.

In 1993’s Tombstone, Russell plays a world-weary Wyatt Earp attempting to bring order to the lawless town of Tombstone. Directed by George P. Cosmatos, the film has become a classic of the Western genre. According to an interview with Russell in True West magazine in 2006, it was he, not Cosmatos, who did most of the heavy lifting behind the scenes. After screenwriter Kevin Jarre was let go from directing, producers asked Russell if he wanted to direct it. He did, but he didn’t want to put his name on it. Instead, he said, he gave Cosmatos a shot list every night for the following day’s shooting, an arrangement that Cosmatos agreed to and apparently had with Sylvester Stallone on 1985’s Rambo: First Blood Part II.

Russell later criticized the True West interview, saying that he preferred not to discuss what went on with Tombstone in a public forum. “I told [George] that if the studio heads talked to me and the producers talked to me about what took place on Tombstone in terms of George’s involvement, in confidence I would tell them the private and real truth,” he told The San Diego Reader in 2016. “Publicly, I have no interest in tainting anything about Tombstone. The credits are what the credits are, and I will leave it at that.”

7. Kurt Russell once reported a UFO sighting while flying an airplane.

Russell is an aviation buff who has his pilot’s license. While flying his plane with Oliver Hudson (Goldie Hawn's son, who Russell raised and considers his own son) in 1997, he reported a strange event. “I was flying Oliver to go see his girlfriend, and we were on approach,” Russell told the BBC. “I saw six lights over the airport in absolute uniform in a V shape. Oliver said to me—I was just looking at him, I was coming in, we’re maybe a half-mile out—and Oliver said, ‘Pa, what are those lights?’ Then I kind of came out of my reverie and I said, ‘I don’t know what they are. He said, ‘Are we OK here?’ And I said, ‘Yeah, I’m gonna call in,’ and I reported it.” The lights soon became known as the Phoenix Lights, which were witnessed by several people. Russell didn’t make his sighting public until 2017.

8. Kurt Russell is not crazy about an Escape From New York remake.

Kurt Russell in Escape from New York (1981).© Rialto Pictures/Studiocanal

Talks have been ongoing for a remake of Escape From New York, the 1981 film that put Russell on the map as a viable action hero. Speaking to Entertainment Weekly in 2017, Russell was asked how he felt about someone else playing Snake Plissken. “I didn’t play Snake Plissken,” Russell said. “I created him!” Asked if he would do a cameo or play a supporting role, he was more succinct. “F**k that! I am Snake Plissken!”