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.
(https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Snow, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Types_of_snow, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Watermelon_snow)
Descriptions of falling Snow
The snowy version of a thunderstorm. Produces snow instead of rain.
Usually a long-lasting snow storm with intense snowfall and high winds.
- Snow storm
A long storm of heavy snow without high winds.
A brief, very intense snowstorm.
- Snow flurry
Short snow storm with light downfall and little accumulation.
When cold winds move across long expanses of warmer lake water, picking up water vapors that freeze and then is deposited on land.
Rain mixed with snow.
Descriptions of Snowflakes
Snowflakes that are shaped like a six sided column.
Snowflakes that has 6 points, making it look like a star.
Snow that forms when freezing fog condenses on a snowflake making a frosty ball. Also known as snow pellets or soft hail.
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.
Coarse, granular wet snow. It is the result of cycles of melting during the day and refreezing at night.
Overhanging formations of windblown snow.
This description covers varieties of snow that all but advanced skiers find impassable.
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.
Snow which has been lying for at least a year but which has not yet consolidated into ice. Mostly granular.
- Heavy crud
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.
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.
Fresh, not yet compacted snow.
Snow that partially melts upon reaching the ground, that then accumulates in watery puddles.
Snow covered with dirt (Yes we have a name for that as well).
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.
Balls of fine frost formed at low temperatures on the Antarctic plateau during weak wind conditions
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.