The different Types of Snow

If you are a skier, or a snowboarder, you are familiar with the different kinds of snow cover, and, no doubt keep an eye on the reports coming from your favorite slope.

Even if you aren’t a winter sports person, you recognize that there are different kinds of snow granules that produce different kinds of snow. Loose granular snow is formed by small pellets. Wet granular snow is the kind that you look for when you want to build a snowman. And, frozen granular snow is the kind that stings when it hits your face.

The type of snow you end up with on the ground, is determined by more than the type of snowflake that is falling. It also depends on several other factors, including temperature, altitude, and, the number of people who have been on it during a given period of time.

Powder is the light, fluffy snow that forms in colder, drier temperatures. Most skiers and snowboarders like this snow, since falling on this snow is softer and safer. This is the snow that, under blizzard conditions, forms large drifts. It can also be misleading, since it is not solid, and it can be difficult to determine exactly how deep a drift may be. This snow will not hold up someone who might get into an especially deep drifted area.

Packed powder is simply powder that has been packed down by a lot of traffic or weather. The fluffy snow crystals of the powder snow become compacted, and icy, with a hard smooth surface.

Crud is a little different from packed powder, and, more dangerous to skiers since it is packed down unevenly, leaving level surfaces in some areas and piles of snow in others. The rough areas and piles of uneven snow become frozen in place.

Crust is powder that has been packed down, warmed by the sun, and melted into a hard, shiny, and slippery surface. This thawing and freezing will sometimes produce an uneven and rocky surface, depending on the amount of traffic over it, and, the weather conditions. It can also be deceiving since it can break through in places unexpectedly.

Slush is produced when the temperature warms up to the point that the snow and ice crystals break up and the water content increases. The melted snow produces water that mixes with the snow to produce a sloppy mess.

Ice is snow that has frozen into a solid glassy surface.

Of all the snow types, powder has to be the all round favorite of most people for sports and over all winter appeal.