Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

Howling Wind, Crunching Snow, Sounds are Crisper in the Cold


When you venture outside during our bitterly cold weather, some things may sound a bit different - car tires driving on snow or a person stepping on it. Sometimes the sound of walking and driving on snow seems to radiate loud and clear. UW-Madison Physics Professor Baha Balantekin says there’s definitely something to noise sounding crisper in the cold.

“When it’s really cold, the air pressure is very high because cold air sinks," Balantekin says. "Air pressure can get really, really high and of course that changes the velocity of the sounds. And that can even changes the frequency, the pitch we hear.”

But Balantekin says clearer does not mean louder. “That may be a perception. When it’s really cold outside there are very few people outside, very few sources of sound, so its quieter to begin with and then you do hear the sounds much better,” Balantekin says.

We hope you are listening in a warm and cozy place.

Related Content