Fun Water Fact Blog – Snow

In Blog, Uncategorized by Helias Taliadoros

50 Shades of White

The winter is slowly creeping up on us and soon enough we will have to deal with another both loved and hated aspect of water. Snow.

As I dug deep in my bottomless back of wacky watery trivia I recalled reading about the Eskimo people having an unusually large number of words describing snow. As I started looking more into it, I realize that it was a common misconception. As a matter of fact we as people have a wide and colorful range of words to describe snow whether it’s falling or deposited of depending on its shape.

Following is a list of as many of those I could find. Next time the weather man or lady shows up on your tv screen throwing out fancy names for snow you will be ready for them.

Descriptions of falling Snow

  • Thundersnow
    The snowy version of a thunderstorm. Produces snow instead of rain.
  • Blizzard
    Usually a long-lasting snow storm with intense snowfall and high winds.
  • Snow storm
    A long storm of heavy snow without high winds.
  • Snowsquall
    A brief, very intense snowstorm.
  • Snow flurry

Short snow storm with light downfall and little accumulation.

  • Lake-effect

When cold winds move across long expanses of warmer lake water, picking up water vapors that freeze and then is deposited on land.

  • Sleet
    Rain mixed with snow.

Descriptions of Snowflakes

  • Columns
    Snowflakes that are shaped like a six sided column.
  • Dendrites
    Snowflakes that has 6 points, making it look like a star.
  • Graupel
    Snow that forms when freezing fog condenses on a snowflake making a frosty ball. Also known as snow pellets or soft hail.
  • Needles
    Snowflakes that look like needles?
  • Rimed snow
    Snowflakes that are partially or completely coated in tiny frozen water droplets called rime.

Descriptions of snow deposits

  • Artificial snow
    Snow that is “manufactured” by snow machines and applied using snow cannons.
  • Blowing snow
    Snow on the ground that is being moved around by wind.
  • Champagne powder
    Very smooth and dry snow, which is perfect for skiing.
  • Chopped powder
    Powder snow that has been disturbed by previous skiers.
  • Corn
    Coarse, granular wet snow. It is the result of cycles of melting during the day and refreezing at night.
  • Cornice
    Overhanging formations of windblown snow.
  • Crud
    This description covers varieties of snow that all but advanced skiers find impassable.
  • Crust
    A layer of snow that is harder on the surface than the snow below, which many times is powder snow. Crusts often result from partial melting of the snow surface by direct sunlight or warm air followed by re-freezing.
  • Depth hoar
    Faceted snow crystals, usually poorly or completely unbonded. High porosity, relatively warm temperature and weak snow bonding that can allow various organisms to live in it.
  • Finger drift
    A narrow snow drift crossing a roadway.
  • Firn
    Snow which has been lying for at least a year but which has not yet consolidated into ice. Mostly granular.
  • Heavy crud
    See ‘Crud’.
  • Ice
    Densely packed material formed from snow that doesn’t contain air bubbles.
  • Packed powder
    The most common snow
  • Packing snow
    Snow that is at or near the melting point.
  • Penitentes
    Tall blades of snow found at high altitudes.
  • Pillow drift
    A snow drift crossing a roadway and usually 10–15 feet in width and 1–3 feet in depth.
  • Powder
    Fresh, not yet compacted snow.
  • Slush
    Snow that partially melts upon reaching the ground, that then accumulates in watery puddles.
  • Snirt
    Snow covered with dirt (Yes we have a name for that as well).
  • Snowdrift
    Piles of snow that occur near walls and curbs, as the wind tends to push the snow up toward the vertical surfaces.
  • Surface hoar
    Faceted, corn-flake shaped snow. Sometimes referred to as hoar frost.
  • Spring snow
    Frozen snow base that melts during midday creating a soft layer.
  • Watermelon snow
    A reddish/pink-colored snow that smells like watermelons, and is caused by a red-colored green algae called Chlamydomonas nivalis. Lately there has been a large increase is reported sightings, largely blamed to global warming.
  • Wind slab
    A layer of relatively hard snow formed by wind blown snow on the leeward side of a ridge or other sheltered area.
  • Yukimarimo
    Balls of fine frost formed at low temperatures on the Antarctic plateau during weak wind conditions
  • Zastrugi
    Snow surface features sculpted by wind into ridges and grooves

And there you have it. All the snow lingo you can possibly handle. Next time you wish for a white Christmas feel free to clarify the snow quality and deposit formations of choice.