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Types of Snow

The Different Types of Snow


Two men skiing in Bethel, Maine
David McLain/Aurora/Getty Images
If you read ski weather reports, you have heard many different types of snow mentioned. From packed powder to granular, it can be difficult to know what kind of snow is actually being mentioned. However, knowing the types of snow is important if you want to know what you'll actually be skiing on. Below, the different snow types are explained.

Corduroy - Corduroy is the finely ridged surface of the snow after a snowcat has groomed a ski trail.

Corn Snow - Typically seen during spring conditions, corn snow results from cycles of nightly freezing and daily thawing. This snow is wet and granular, and as it melts more in the day it may become sloppy and heavy.

Crud - Basically, crud is powder that has been skied on. Think of crud as powder that's been trampled. It's snow that is uneven, packed down in some places, and piled up in others.

Crust - Crust is soft snow that has a layer of harden, frozen crust (hence the name) on the top. Crust can be from a number of things. Freezing rain, direct sunlight, or the melting and refreezing of the top layer of powder can result in crust.

Powder - Powder is freshly fallen snow that is very light. Formed by tiny snow flakes, it is extremely soft. Many skiers love powder.

Packed Powder- Packed powder is snow that is compressed and flattened either by skier and snowboarder traffic or by grooming equipment.

Slush - Slush is snow that is starting to melt, and it's very heavy and very wet. Some would say that slush doesn't even look like snow, and those who've seen slush during spring conditions know how difficult skiing in slush can be.

Snow Grains - Snow grains are very small, white, grains of ice.

Snow Pellets - Snow pellets are a form of precipitation that is created when supercooled droplets of water collect and freeze on a snowflake.

Granular Snow

  • Loose Granular Snow - Loose Granular is small, loose pellets of snow that is created by the grooming of wet or icy snow.
  • Wet Granular Snow - Wet Granular is very wet snow, often found in spring conditions. This snow will form a snowball.
  • Frozen Granular Snow - Frozen granular is frozen snow with a consistency like sugar.

Snow Terms
There are more ways than you might imagine to describe snow. Snow terms run the gamut from cauliflower to dust to smud, to the traditional powder. If there is a type of snow there is term to describe it. Here is a list of terms to describe snow and skiing conditions.

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