Because of the way that the earth is lined up relative
to the sun, the areas along the equator get more sunlight. Think of how
much more sun a board gets when it is lying flat on the ground at noon,
compared to how much it gets if it's propped almost straight up. That's
like the difference between the sunlight hitting the equator and the
sunlight hitting far from the equator, where the land doesn't directly
face the Sun. So this makes places near the equator a lot warmer. It
has to be pretty cold in order to get snow, so it generally doesn't
snow much there. It's just too hot outside.
You should be
aware, though, that there are a few places on the equator that actually
do have snow. This happens because at higher elevations (i.e. high up
in mountains), the temperature is colder. Close to the equator, you
have to get really high up in order to get snow, but there are a few
mountain peaks that are tall enough. For example, Mt. Kilamanjaro in
Tanzania, the Mt. Cayambe in Equador, Mt. Cotacachi also in Equador,
and Mt. Kenya in the Maasai Mara National Reserve in Kenya are
well-known for getting cold enough to have snow even though they are
right near the equator.
The elevation at which you can get
snow is called the "snow line." The closer you get to the equator, the
warmer it tends to be, so the higher the snow line is. This means that
you have to get really high up in order to get snow at the equator.
(published on 10/22/2007)