As well as information regarding avalanche conditions, the snow report provides information about the type of snow on the mountain and the type of snow that is falling.
How Does Snow Form?
Snow forms in the atmosphere when the conditions are right - low temperatures combined with moisture in the air. This causes the moisture to form into ice crystals. When the ice crystals come together in clouds they stick together and form snowflakes. If enough of them stick together they become heavy enough to fall, in the form of snowflakes, to the ground.
What Are The Different Types Of Snowfall?
Snowfall is defined by a number of factors - the shape of the flakes, the intensity of the snowfall and the way in which it settles on the ground. Falling snow is categorised by the visibility when falling. When visibility is over one kilometre snowfall is defined as a flurry - a light snowfall. When visibility drops below one kilometre the snowfall is defined as heavy. Heavier snowfall is described as a blizzard or a snowstorm.
Shape Of Snowfall
When freezing fog condenses around a snowflake it forms into a ball. This is known as Graupel and includes sleet It is generally lighter than hail. The classic idea of a snowflake - a six sided star - is known as a Dendrite. A six sided column shaped flake is known as a Column. Needles are long flakes. Rimed snow is a type of snow that gets coated in frozen water droplets as it passes through a super cooled cloud.
Different Types Of Snowpack
The snow on the ground is known as the snowpack. There are different types of snowpack. Artificial snow is manufactured in ski resorts by snow canons in order to ensure there is enough snow on the pistes for skiing. A loosely formed recently fallen collection of snow crystals is described as powder snow. This is the kind of snow most associated with off piste skiing, as well as avalanches. As it gets skiied on it becomes chopped powder. The snow on the piste, where it has been packed down by piste bashers, is known as packed powder. Late in the season, as the weather warms up, the snow can turn to slush. In certain conditions, for example first thing in the morning, snow can become ice, whicch is hard to ski on and can b dangerous. Being aware of the snowpack means that you can be prepared for what to expect on any given day.