Guest Post by Pistepro.com
It’s that time of year again! Whether you are a snow lover or not (though I’m sure there aren’t too many who aren’t on this website!), inevitably, winter will come.
And when it does, there are different types of snowfall to contend with.
This handy guide will help you understand what kind of snow will fall in your area and at what temperatures. Hopefully, you can use this information to better prepare for winter weather. Read on to find out.
Types of Snow Suitable for Snowboarding and Skiing
Snow that is the best for snowboarding and skiing falls at temperatures between 0°F (-18°C) and 30°F (-1°C). Two of the main types of snow include; Cascade concrete and Light Fluffy Powder.
It is heavy, wet snow that falls during warm temperatures. It has the consistency of concrete, making snowboarding and skiing quite challenging and slow.
When/Where Does Cascade Concrete Fall?
Cascade Concrete accounts for about 10% of total snowfall. It is common in the Pacific Northwest (hence being named after the Cascades). It falls when snow has a higher water content, when temperatures are warmer. Regular snow has around a 1:10 water to snow ratio – i.e. 1 inch of water = 10 inches of snow. For Cascade Concrete this can be as low as 1:5.
Light Fluffy Powder
Light, fluffy powder is the most desirable type of snow for snowboarding and skiing. It is light, dry, and powdery, which makes it easy and fun to snowboard/ski on. The ideal temperature for this type of snow ranges from 0 °F and 10 °F. Though that’s getting pretty fussy and good powder will still fall at much warmer temperatures. But if you’re looking for that really ideal range, there it is.
Wind also plays a part in how good that powder is. The lower the wind the better.
Light, fluffy powder is a joy to snowboard/ski on, but it can also be a hazard when visibility is low or accompanied by strong winds.
What is Icy snow, and what causes it?
Icy snow occurs in two ways.
Firstly, when snow becomes warmer, usually in the afternoon and the surface melts – and then it gets cold overnight, freezing that melted layer on top, causing an icy surface.
Secondly, icy snow (or at least very hard snow) can occur when it’s very cold and there hasn’t been any fresh snowfall for a while. Without any fresh snow and lots of skiers and snowboarders compacting the snow down, it can become hard and icy.
What is Slush Snow, and what causes it?
Slushy snow occurs when the snow starts to melt on warmer days, then it freezes again overnight, and then melts again the next day when it gets warmer. This produces a slushy consistency that, like Cascade Concrete, can create a vacuum under skis and snowboards, which prevents the base from gliding smoothly – causing things to be slow and sometimes also produces inconsistent glide.
When Does Slush Snowfall?
Slush snow is most common in the spring, when temperatures are getting warmer.
Best Temperature for Each Type of Snowfall
This type of snow falls when it’s warmer – usually warmer than around 30°F (-1°C) – but still cold enough that it’s not warm enough to be rain or sleet.
Light, fluffy powder
This type of snow is typically best at 25°F (-4°C) Fahrenheit or colder but might be at it’s best between 0 °F and 10 °F and with little wind.
Occurs most often when temperatures are warmer enough (usually warmer than around 32°F (0°C)) to melt snow during the day and cold enough at night to freeze. This can also occur at colder temperatures, when there hasn’t been any fresh snowfall for a while.
Slush snow occurs when snow melts, freezes then re-melts. It needs to be warm enough in the day for snow to begin to melt.
Best Snowboarding / Skiing Conditions
It depends on your preference/tolerance for cold. Arguably the best snow falls in the 0°F (-18°C) to 25°F (-4°C) range, but when you’re talking 0°F (-18°C) you may find it on the cold side, particularly if you don’t have the appropriate clothing for those temperatures.
So, for a mixture of good snow more comfortable temperatures, we think anything between 10°F (-12°C) to 25°F (-4°C) is the that sweet spot (the goldilocks zone, if you will). If you’re looking for good skiing or snowboarding conditions, look no further than that temperature range, we reckon.