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12 Places That Rarely See Snow

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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 only 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

FRANCISCO LEONG/AFP/Getty Images

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

JUAN MABROMATA/AFP/Getty Images

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

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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 eight inches of snow on the ground.

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15 Confusing Plant and Animal Misnomers
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People have always given names to the plants and animals around us. But as our study of the natural world has developed, we've realized that many of these names are wildly inaccurate. In fact, they often have less to say about nature than about the people who did the naming. Here’s a batch of these befuddling names.

1. COMMON NIGHTHAWK

There are two problems with this bird’s name. First, the common nighthawk doesn’t fly at night—it’s active at dawn and dusk. Second, it’s not a hawk. Native to North and South America, it belongs to a group of birds with an even stranger name: Goatsuckers. People used to think that these birds flew into barns at night and drank from the teats of goats. (In fact, they eat insects.)

2. IRISH MOSS

It’s not a moss—it’s a red alga that lives along the rocky shores of the northern Atlantic Ocean. Irish moss and other red algae give us carrageenan, a cheap food thickener that you may have eaten in gummy candies, soy milk, ice cream, veggie hot dogs, and more.

3. FISHER-CAT

Native to North America, the fisher-cat isn’t a cat at all: It’s a cousin of the weasel. It also doesn’t fish. Nobody’s sure where the fisher cat’s name came from. One possibility is that early naturalists confused it with the sea mink, a similar-looking creature that was an expert fisher. But the fisher-cat prefers to eat land animals. In fact, it’s one of the few creatures that can tackle a porcupine.

4. AMERICAN BLUE-EYED GRASS

American blue-eyed grass doesn’t have eyes (which is good, because that would be super creepy). Its blue “eyes” are flowers that peek up at you from a meadow. It’s also not a grass—it’s a member of the iris family.

5. MUDPUPPY

The mudpuppy isn’t a cute, fluffy puppy that scampered into some mud. It’s a big, mucus-covered salamander that spends all of its life underwater. (It’s still adorable, though.) The mudpuppy isn’t the only aquatic salamander with a weird name—there are many more, including the greater siren, the Alabama waterdog, and the world’s most metal amphibian, the hellbender.

6. WINGED DRAGONFISH

This weird creature has other fantastic and inaccurate names: brick seamoth, long-tailed dragonfish, and more. It’s really just a cool-looking fish. Found in the waters off of Asia, it has wing-like fins, and spends its time on the muddy seafloor.

7. NAVAL SHIPWORM

The naval shipworm is not a worm. It’s something much, much weirder: a kind of clam with a long, wormlike body that doesn’t fit in its tiny shell. It uses this modified shell to dig into wood, which it eats. The naval shipworm, and other shipworms, burrow through all sorts of submerged wood—including wooden ships.

8. WHIP SPIDERS

These leggy creatures are not spiders; they’re in a separate scientific family. They also don’t whip anything. Whip spiders have two long legs that look whip-like, but that are used as sense organs—sort of like an insect’s antennae. Despite their intimidating appearance, whip spiders are harmless to humans.

9. VELVET ANTS

A photograph of a velvet ant
Craig Pemberton, Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 3.0

There are thousands of species of velvet ants … and all are wasps, not ants. These insects have a fuzzy, velvety look. Don’t pat them, though—velvet ants aren’t aggressive, but the females pack a powerful sting.

10. SLOW WORM

The slow worm is not a worm. It’s a legless reptile that lives in parts of Europe and Asia. Though it looks like a snake, it became legless through a totally separate evolutionary path from the one snakes took. It has many traits in common with lizards, such as eyelids and external ear holes.

11. TRAVELER'S PALM

This beautiful tree from Madagascar has been planted in tropical gardens all around the world. It’s not actually a palm, but belongs to a family that includes the bird of paradise flower. In its native home, the traveler’s palm reproduces with the help of lemurs that guzzle its nectar and spread pollen from tree to tree.

12. VAMPIRE SQUID

Drawing of a vampire squid
Carl Chun, Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

This deep-sea critter isn’t a squid. It’s the only surviving member of a scientific order that has characteristics of both octopuses and squids. And don’t let the word “vampire” scare you; it only eats bits of falling marine debris (dead stuff, poop, and so on), and it’s only about 11 inches long.

13. MALE FERN & LADY FERN

Early botanists thought that these two ferns belonged to the same species. They figured that the male fern was the male of the species because of its coarse appearance. The lady fern, on the other hand, has lacy fronds and seemed more ladylike. Gender stereotypes aside, male and lady Ferns belong to entirely separate species, and almost all ferns can make both male and female reproductive cells. If ferns start looking manly or womanly to you, maybe you should take a break from botany.

14. TENNESSEE WARBLER

You will never find a single Tennessee warbler nest in Tennessee. This bird breeds mostly in Canada, and spends the winter in Mexico and more southern places. But early ornithologist Alexander Wilson shot one in 1811 in Tennessee during its migration, and the name stuck.

15. CANADA THISTLE

Though it’s found across much of Canada, this spiky plant comes from Europe and Asia. Early European settlers brought Canada thistle seeds to the New World, possibly as accidental hitchhikers in grain shipments. A tough weed, the plant soon spread across the continent, taking root in fields and pushing aside crops. So why does it have this inaccurate name? Americans may have been looking for someone to blame for this plant—so they blamed Canada.

A version of this story originally ran in 2015.

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18 Tea Infusers to Make Teatime More Exciting
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Cost Plus World Market

Make steeping tea more fun with these quirky tea infusers.

Mental Floss has affiliate relationships with certain retailers and may receive a small percentage of any sale. But we only get commission on items you buy and don’t return, so we’re only happy if you’re happy. Thanks for helping us pay the bills!

1. SOAKING IT UP; $7.49

man-shaped tea infuser
Amazon

That mug of hot water might eventually be a drink for you, but first it’s a hot bath for your new friend, who has special pants filled with tea.

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2. A FLYING TEA BOX; $25.98

There’s no superlaser on this Death Star, just tea.

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3. SPACE STATION; $9.99

astronaut tea infuser
ThinkGeek

This astronaut's mission? Orbit the rim of your mug until you're ready to pull the space station diffuser out.

Buy on ThinkGeek.

4. BE REFINED; $12.99

This pipe works best with Earl Grey.

Buy on Amazon.

5. A RIBBITING OPTION; $10.93

This frog hangs on to the side of your mug with a retractable tongue. When the tea is ready, you can put him back on his lily pad.

Buy on Amazon.

6. ‘TEA’ ALL LIVE IN A YELLOW SUBMARINE; $5.95

It’s just like the movie, only with tea instead of Beatles.

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7. SHARK ATTACK; $6.99

shark tea infuser
Cost Plus World Market

This fearsome shark patrols the bottom of your mug waiting for prey. For extra fun, use red tea to look like the end of a feeding frenzy.

Buy at Cost Plus World Market.

8. PERFECT FOR A RAINY DAY; $12.40

This umbrella’s handle conveniently hooks to the side of your mug.

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9. AN EGGCELLENT INFUSER; $5.75

cracked egg tea infuser
Amazon

Sometimes infusers are called tea eggs, and this one takes the term to a new, literal level.

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10. FOR SQUIRRELY DRINKERS; $8.95

If you’re all right with a rodent dunking its tail into your drink, this is the infuser for you.

Buy on Amazon.

11. HANGING OUT; $12.85

This pug is happy to hang onto your mug and keep you company while you wait for the tea to be ready.

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12. ANOTHER SHARK OPTION; $5.99

If you thought letting that other shark infuser swim around in the deep water of your glass was too scary, this one perches on the edge, too busy chomping on your mug to worry about humans.

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13. RUBBER DUCKIE, YOU’RE THE ONE; $8.95

Let this rubber duckie peacefully float in your cup and make teatime lots of fun.

Buy on Amazon.

14. DIVING DEEP; $8.25

This old-timey deep-sea diver comes with an oxygen tank that you can use to pull it out.

Buy on Amazon.

15. MAKE SWEET TEA; $10

This lollipop won't actually make your tea any sweeter, but you can always add some sugar after.

Buy on Amazon.

16. A SEASONAL FAVORITE; $7.67

When Santa comes, give him some tea to go with the cookies.

Buy on Amazon.

17. FLORAL TEA; $14.99

Liven up any cup of tea with this charming flower. When you’re done, you can pop it right back into its pot.

Buy on Live Infused.

18. KEEP IT TRADITIONAL; $7.97

If you’re nostalgic for the regular kind of tea bag, you can get reusable silicon ones that look almost the same.

Buy on Amazon.

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