Snow: What is this stuff anyway?

Are you skiing on dendrite powder? Carving on graupel? Shredding some polycrystalline?

It's no surprise that snow is our favourite topic, after all, we are #SnowSeekers! But how well do you actually know the snow itself? Let's get acquainted. Take this mini-lesson and get an edge on your next trip into a winter wonderland. 

Good ol' Snowflakes 

These are the dainty, no-two-are-exactly-alike ice crystals that fall from a cloud. The most common snowflake shape is the six-armed, star-shaped dendrite.  

Larger snowflakes form in warmer temperatures and have more water content, which are great for making snow forts, packing down trails and jumps, and snowball fights. 

Small, fine snowflakes form when it's well below freezing. Get enough of these together and it's the ultimate pow day!

Keep reading SnowSeekers' own Doc Pow's Ode to the Pow

Pretty Hoarfrost 

This is the stuff of photographers dreams and a sure sign to throw on the warm long johns. Imagine trees along Edmonton's river valley when the temperature drops. The vapour moisture being released by the trees (or anywhere where dew-drops would form in the summer) skips the liquid stage and goes straight to forming interlocking ice crystals. It's basically frozen steam.

Keep reading: The Inside Scoop on BC's Snow lingo

SnowSeekers Snow Graupel Pellets

Misunderstood Graupel 

It's not hailing, it's pelting! Graupel is formed when snowflakes turn into small pellets. As the flakes fall through the clouds, cold water droplets attach to make a small crumbly lump that falls to the ground. Hail tends to be harder and can be much bigger.

Keep reading: The Science of Snowcasting

Mitch Winton Snow Machine SnowSeekers Alberta British Columbia
Photo: Mitch Winton

Polycrystalline Snow 

It's not powder but we'll take it! When Ullr, the Norse god of snow, is being stingy, ski resorts bring out the big guns. Most snowmaking machines work by freezing tiny water droplets and catapulting tiny ice shavings on to the piste. These are polycrystals and boy are we glad to have them covering rocks and roots underneath those early season runs!

Find out where the snow is today with our Western Canada snow round up 

The 7 snowiest resorts in Western Canada

There's really not a dud in the group when it comes to Western Canada. You can get your fill of snow days no matter where you park your skis. But when it comes to average yearly snowfall totals, there are a few that lead the pack.

Mount Cain - 15 m

Powder King -12.5 m

Whitewater - 12.2 m

Shames - 12 m

Whistler Blackcomb - 11.9 m

Mt Washington - 11.6 m

Revelstoke - 10.5 m

SnowSeekers is all about getting you on the slopes - the ones you call home and the ones you want to discover.

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Is snow, sand?

With everything you now know about snow, here's a thinker: Are we actually 'Sand' Seekers?

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