Do You Know How Many Kinds Of Snow There Are?

kinds of snow

Photo via Flickr.

My kids and I have played in soft powder snow and hard icy snow.  How many kinds of snow are there and what causes the differences?

If you live in the Rocky Mountains or other areas that receive a lot of snow then you have seen lots of snow.  You may have noticed that there are different kinds, but have you ever though about why?  Here are the main kinds of snow that you may encounter.

Eskimos Have Many Words To Describe The Kinds Of Snow

There is an old saying that eskimos have hundreds of words for snow.  Scientists now realize that they may not have hundreds, but the people that live in the far north do have 40 or 50 different words to describe the snow.  Their culture lives in an area that sees lots of snow and is part of their life.  It is crucial that they can describe the snow more than just saying, there is snow.

Scientists Classify 35 Different Kinds Of Snowflakes

Most researchers classify snow into 35 types.  These are all based upon their shape.  Snow is really just ice crystals that fall from the sky.  The different kinds of snow form at different temperatures and under different conditions in the atmosphere.

kinds of snow

Wet snow is ideal for making a snowman! Photo via Flickr.

Snow Can Be Dry Or Wet

The amount of water in the snow itself determines how dry or wet the snow will be.  It is often measured as how many inches of snow are required to make one inch of water.  For example 3 to 1 would be wet snow and 20 to 1 would be dry snow.

Dry, powder snow is ideal for skies and can be simply cleared off a driveway with a broom.  Unfortunately, though dry snow can’t be shaped into snowballs or snowman.

On the other hand wet snow is heavy and causes back aches for those shoveling it off a driveway.  The good news is that wet snow is ideal for making snowballs and snow men.

kinds of snow

Powder is fun! Photo via Flickr.

Main Kinds Of Snow Conditions For Skiers

Powder Snow – This is dry new snow, which is composed of loose, fresh ice crystals.  Fresh powder is the kind of snow that skiers and snowboarders dream of because it is great for those that know what they are doing.

Crud – As the name sounds, this is not great snow.  This is what happens after the powder has been skied for awhile and now the snow is variable.  It will be bumpy, with icy spots, and patches of powder here and there.

Crust – This is snow that has a hard, frozen layer of snow on the top with soft snow underneath.  The crust may break easily to reveal the soft under snow or the crust may be harder.

Icy – The snow on top is gone and basically you are left with ice.  This could be because it hasn’t snowed for a long time or the wind has blown off the loose snow leaving the hard ice underneath.