Who doesn’t love snow? There’s so much fun you can have in it! And of course some types of snow are better than others for various wintertime activities. Whether you like to go skiing or stay indoors and enjoy the view, we’ve got a list of the best types of snow for everything!
Powder snow is highly prized by wintertime sports enthusiasts because it is perfect for skiing, snowboarding, and tobogganing. True powder snow is dry, light, and fluffy enough to make you feel like you’re floating down a mountainside, whereas other types of snow tend to feel much rougher.
Powder snow can vary quite a lot from region to region, and it comes in several different grades:
- Champagne powder commonly happens in the Rocky Mountains. Skiers love it because it’s the lightest, driest snow of all.
- Packed powder is bumpier, more well-traveled snow, but most skiers, snowboarders and sled riders still enjoy it.
- Chopped powder is the least desirable powder snow because the tracks from previous snowboarders and skiers have made the snow’s surface choppy.
Because powder snow is so light and airy, it’s also the best type of snow if you have a lot of shoveling to do because it’s easier on your back. If it’s windy, however, it can be frustrating to watch it blow right back onto your newly cleared driveway. Best to leave the shoveling until after the wind dies down!
Corn snow forms when the surface of the snow thaws out and then refreezes. The result is a chunky, grainy snow (like kernels of corn) that is good for skiing, even if it isn’t as good as an excellent powder snow. This is a type of snow that is common in the early spring (spring skiing!) when temperatures are hovering around the melting point.
Yes, it’s a real thing! Any type of snow can turn into crud. Crud is messy snow that has either been tracked up, thawed and refrozen or saturated by rain. This type of snow is generally rough with crusty spots and ridges that make it difficult to do just about anything, from skiing to walking. If you have a thick layer of crud on your driveway or walkways, it might seem like the only way to get rid of it is to wait for the spring thaw — or rent a jackhammer!
Crud isn’t all bad, however. If you like to go sledding with old-fashioned runner sleds like the Flexible Flyer, then crud is exactly what you want. Other types of snow are too soft, which means your runner sled will sink and get stuck.
If you’re in the mood to build snowmen, snow forts, igloos or other icy architecture, then you need a good packing snow. This snow is also the best for snowball fights because it makes nice snowballs that will fly through the air without disintegrating, but they aren’t so hard as to leave your enemies bruised and battered. Your best chance for packing snow is when temperatures are near the melting point so that the falling snowflakes are heavy and wet. This type of snow, however, is dangerous to shovel. Read our shoveling safety tips here.
Surface hoar is a special kind of large, flat ice formation that happens when a heavy frost settles on existing snow. Hoar usually forms during clear nights, and it only happens when the snow is colder than the air just above it. If you want to wrap up in a blanket and enjoy the view from the warmth of your home, then this is the best type of snow. During the day, snow with sparkling hoar frost is absolutely dazzling. Under moonlight, the flakes of frost glitter as if stars have fallen to the ground.
The Worst Snow?
Snirt is a mix of snow and dirt. The snirt that many of us are most familiar with is the dirty snow that snowplows pile up in parking lots or along roadways. In the Great Plains, however, you’ll find snirt that forms when soil from uncovered croplands blows onto snow, turning it a dingy brown or gray.
What is your favorite snow activity? Share in the comments below!
Amber Kanuckel is a freelance writer from rural Ohio who loves all things outdoors. She specializes in home, garden, environmental, and green living topics.