Snow sense


This is not a complete rip from the 1997 film ‘Smila’s Sense of Snow’, but both this post and the movie have something in common.  And that is, discussing the different types of snow.  In the movie, Smila’s (played by Julia Ormond) sense of snow was instrumental for solving a murder mystery.  That is not the case here.  This has more to do with light and mildly interesting entertainment value.

The different types of snow are driven by weather, how warm it is, how cold, how dry, and location.  You don’t have to live in different locations to find different types of snow.  You can live in one place and experience variety within a short time frame.  For example, Lake Tahoe.

In the Intuit, Eskimo or Scandinavian Sami languages, there are hundreds of words for types of snow, tracks in snows or conditions of snow.   In addition, there are probably 35 types of snowflakes, aka falling snow.  Once those hit the ground, it’s off to another vocabulary.

There’s artificial snow, blowing snow, powder, chopped powder, packed powder, corn, crud, heavy crud, crust, depth hoar, surface hoar, firn, ice, slush, spring snow, snirt (love that one), watermelon snow, yukimarimo, etc., etc., etc.  These types of snow are interesting but may or may not be life changing.

For skiers, there are about five to ten types of snow, depending on who you talk to.  It’s important to know the types of snow for the optimal skiing experience, not to mention safety.   There’s powder, packed powder, corn, crud, crust, slush, snow pellets, granular, and ice. The equipment you use and the way you use it can change based on the type of snow.

For us here in Lake Tahoe, we have had many of the aforementioned types of snow this winter.  This year, winter of 2016 – 2017, it all  adds up to a new type of snow called ‘Too much snow’.  Too much snow is when there is no longer a place to move the snow, so one can drive down the street, get into one’s house. Too much snow clogs the drainage ditches, takes down fences, and caves in roofs.  Too much snow shuts down ski resorts which seems the ultimate insult.  Too much snow causes avalanches so even if the ski resort was open, one couldn’t get there because the road is closed.

Fortunately, too much snow is temporary.  Sooner or later, clever snow removal people find a place to put it.  Sooner or later, it melts.  And when it does melt, it does lots of wonderful things for people who don’t live in snow country, like water the crops, replace the depleted aquifer, help the salmon.  For temporary pain, there is long term gain.  Ultimately.

We hope you appreciate it.