Eskimos apparently have 50 words for snow, and this gives a hint as to the breadth of conversation that can be built around those crystalline flakes: will it snow, has it snowed, where will it snow, how long will the snow stay, will it be hard snow, slushy snow or icy snow? Or even no snow at all?
Although these service park chats take place every year with the predictability of Groundhog Day, people delight in re-living them. And this year was no exception.
During the pre-event tests, some teams saw temperatures dip below -30 degrees centigrade. This week in Karlstad, after the rally, locals were predicting the sort of heavy snowfall that is the stuff of ski resort dreams.
But during the actual rally itself, the stuff was in comparatively short supply, making the stages particularly tricky during the second run, when loose stones and gravel pulled the studs out of the tyres and exposed hazards such as the rock that tripped up both the factory Ford Fiestas of Jari-Matti Latvala and Petter Solberg with just two stages to go.
Mikko Hirvonen, as always, could be relied upon to provide a sensible perspective before the rally started. "I've seen the stages in better condition and I've seen them in worse condition," he said. "In the end there's no point debating it much, because there's not a lot you can do. You just have to work with what you've got."
His task was made harder, of course, by the fact that he was still getting used to the Citroen DS3 WRC, although both Hirvonen and his co-driver Jarmo Lehtinen have settled into the team quicker than they expected.
"It's been really nice the way that Citroen have welcomed us and helped to take a lot of pressure off us," said Lehtinen before the start. "In the end, the hardest things for us to get used to are the small things - such as where all the buttons are and which processes to follow - rather than the big things, which Citroen look after themselves very well. Let's put it this way: it's no surprise to me now that Citroen are as successful as they have been. And I think the second rally for us will be much easier than the first."
It was: Hirvonen was fighting for the lead from start to finish, and with two stages to go he was only eight seconds away from claiming his first win in just his second rally with Citroen - a feat that not even Sebastien Loeb ever managed.
Ultimately though, he wasn't quite able to match the speed of Latvala, for reasons that Mads Ostberg, in a fine third, summarised succinctly. "Mikko is quick in Sweden, but Jari-Matti is a bit crazy."
When it all holds together, that makes Latvala the fastest driver in the world championship. When it doesn't, the likeable Finn becomes another statistic on the retirements list. But despite his lapse of concentration in Monte Carlo at the start of the year, we're seeing more of the speed and fewer mistakes - which is what makes Latvala such a devastatingly effective team leader at Ford.
Yet, to quote one of the most famous lines from the film The Usual Suspects, "the greatest trick that the devil ever pulled was to convince the world that he didn't exist."
Despite a relatively subdued performance in Sweden, where he finished sixth, Sebastien Loeb somehow managed to maintain the championship lead while Hirvonen joined him in second and Citroen continued to head up the manufacturers' standings. If Latvala is currently the quickest man in rallying then Loeb is the cleverest, able to maximise every opportunity at his disposal. He's never particularly got on with snow rallies (despite having triumphed both Sweden and Norway previously) but Loeb is profoundly pragmatic: if he can't win he'll take whatever is going without ever feeling the need to throw his toys out of the pram. It's just one of the qualities that makes him not only the most successful driver in rallying, but arguably the most successful driver in the history of motorsport, period. Not to mention the biggest professional out there.
As always, the true picture won't emerge until round three in Mexico, because Monte Carlo and Sweden are the two most idiosyncratic events on the calendar. Bearing that in mind, the danger man once more could be Petter Solberg. The Norwegian made no secret of the fact that he felt Monte and Sweden were going to be his most difficult rallies this year - firstly because historically he's never gone brilliantly on either event (despite being another former Sweden winner) and secondly because he was still going to be spending time getting used to the Fiesta RS WRC.
As it is, he's gone spectacularly well on both his ‘bogey' events - and the rejuvenated Norwegian is convinced that the only way from here is up. It's been his best start to a World Championship campaign for a very long time and Solberg is determined to maintain the momentum. Had it not been for that rogue rock when the end was in sight, Solberg would have been the only man this year to claim two consecutive podiums.
So while rallying may have been dominated by Finns and Frenchmen in recent years, never discount the Norwegians. Another man of the moment is Andreas Mikkelsen: the young driver from Norway who took the fight to Sebastien Ogier in the second Volkswagen Motorsport Skoda Fabia like nobody has ever done before. True, Mikkelsen knows the car very well through his links with Skoda Motorsport, and he loves driving on snow and ice. But Ogier is the established world rally winner, and on the first day at least, Mikkelsen was beating him in equal equipment. That's the simple truth. Like the Ford drivers, the 22-year-old was caught out by a puncture at the very end, but he still salvaged an excellent result. That's yet another indication of how the future of the sport is in extremely safe hands.