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Winter Weather - Snow Words

Updated on September 28, 2011
Christmas snow 2010
Christmas snow 2010

A Guide for the Non-Weather Person

I never knew there were so many different kinds of snow. Snow is just snow – right? Wrong. Here’s what I learned when I became puzzled by the weather person’s terminology during a particularly snowy winter.

In general, snow is a combination of ice crystals that form snowflakes at temperatures below freezing (32°F). Falling snow is classified as light, moderate or heavy.

More specifically, there are two kinds of snow – wet and dry. Well, all snow is wet, isn’t it? No, not really. Wet snow forms when the temperature is at about 32°F. It is partially melted before it hits the ground, so it is denser and therefore, wetter. Sometimes the wet snowflakes clump together to make very large flakes. Accumulation is greater with wet snow and it makes great snowballs.

Dry snow has very little liquid content and has more air in it. It is less dense and it’s hard to make snowballs with it. Dry snow makes great snow cream.

How to Make Snow Ice Cream

  • about 8 cups fresh, clean dry snow
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 tbsp. vanilla
  • 1/2 cup sugar

Stir the milk, vanilla and sugar with a whisk in a large bowl. Add the snow and mix in. Serve immediately.

Snow grains are one type of dry snow. They are small grains of ice so not much accumulation is achieved.

Snow pellets are also dry snow. They are snowflakes that melt half-way and then refreeze.

Thunder snow is another story. Also known as a winter thunderstorm or a thunder snowstorm, thunder snow is pretty rare. In this phenomenon, snow falls instead of rain but thunder and lightning are still present.

Now, when the weatherman (or woman) talks about snow, you'll actually understand what's going on!


Submit a Comment

  • Esmeowl12 profile image

    Cindy A. Johnson 5 years ago from Sevierville, TN

    Thanks for your comments, Tiffany! I love to take snow pictures. You never know what you're going to get!

  • tiffany delite profile image

    tiffany delite 5 years ago from united states

    thank you so much for this great hub and the beautiful pics! we recently experienced a wet thunder snow here in wichita, ks! it was fantastic! thanks again for sharing...blessings!

  • ajaodegaard profile image

    ajaodegaard 6 years ago

    Snow.... I am not quite ready for it yet, but I did really enjoy your article!

  • Esmeowl12 profile image

    Cindy A. Johnson 6 years ago from Sevierville, TN

    Thanks, Jo! The upper elevations here had some snow but all we got was some rain and sleet. The mountaintops look beautiful.

  • Jo_Goldsmith11 profile image

    Jo_Goldsmith11 6 years ago

    How very cool! what a neat idea to write about. And the timing is perfect. :( We are due from light accumulations here. I am not ready for the cold yet! Anyway, great info and I voted up! :) useful, awesome, and interesting!

  • Esmeowl12 profile image

    Cindy A. Johnson 6 years ago from Sevierville, TN

    Thanks, Mary. For 30 years I lived where it snowed maybe 3 times. Now we have significant snow in winter here in TN. I LOVE IT.

  • tillsontitan profile image

    Mary Craig 6 years ago from New York

    Great information about snow. Who would've thought to write about it. Voted up and interesting.

  • Esmeowl12 profile image

    Cindy A. Johnson 6 years ago from Sevierville, TN

    Thanks, PracticalMommy! It's delicious!

  • ThePracticalMommy profile image

    Marissa 6 years ago from United States

    Very interesting hub! I love the snow ice cream recipe, I'll have to try it with some 'clean' snow this year. That'd be fun to do with the kids! :)

  • Esmeowl12 profile image

    Cindy A. Johnson 7 years ago from Sevierville, TN

    Thanks for your comments Winsome and LivingFood. I never thought I'd say it, but I'd be happy not to worry about winter weather terms until next year!

  • LivingFood profile image

    LivingFood 7 years ago

    I have heard of thunder snow before...but I have yet to witness it. Maybe one day...if I am lucky. Very informative hub!

  • Winsome profile image

    Winsome 7 years ago from Southern California by way of Texas

    Hi Esme, did you hear about the guy who got buried in a thunder snow and when the lightning flashed close by he turned it into wet snow...heh heh Thanks for the new terms. If I ever leave So. Calif. it might come in handy. =:)