Sno Country Reports Snow Condition Definitions & Terms
This glossary of terms is used by all ski areas when they report to SCR.
The code allows for communication with skiers in a universal language.
NOTE: The standard abbreviations next to each definition reflect the way ski reports are communicated in print (newspapers).
New Snow: Natural snowfall which has fallen in the past 24 hours or
continuously for more than one day. An average accumulation from summit to
base is reported.
Average Base Depth: An average of the high and low amounts of snow over
the entire ski area. Machine made and natural snow amounts are combined.
Primary Surface Condition: The type of snow condition which covers at
least 70 percent of the terrain open to skiers.
Secondary Surface Condition: The next most prevalent snow conditions,
covering at least 20% of the skiing terrain open to skiers.
Powder-PDR: Cold, new, loose, fluffy, flaky and dry snow which has not
Packed Powder-PP: Powder snow, either natural or machine made, that has
been packed down by skier traffic or grooming machines. The snow is no longer fluffy, but is not so extremely compacted that it is hard.
Hard Pack-HP: When natural or machine made snow becomes very firmly
packed. The snow has never melted and re-crystallized, but it's been tightly
compressed through grooming and continuous wind exposure. You can plant a
pole in hard packed snow, but it takes more effort than packed powder.
Machine Groomed Snow-MGS: Loose granular snow that has been repeatedly
groomed by power tillers so that the texture is halfway between LSGR & PP.
Some of the snow is granular & has been so pulverized that the crystals are
like powder sugar. It's neither LSGR or PP.
Wet Snow-WETSN: Powder or packed powder snow that has become moist due to
a thaw or rainfall, or snow which was moist when it fell.
Wet packed Snow-WPS: Natural or machine made snow that has been
previously packed and becomes wet usually because of rainfall.
Loose Granular-LSGR: This surface results after powder or packed powder
thaws, then refreezes and recrystalizes, or from an accumulation of sleet.
This is also created by machine grooming of frozen or icy snow.
Frozen Granular-FRGR: This is undoubtedly the most misunderstood surface
condition in ski reporting. It is defined as a hard surface of old snow
formed by granules freezing together after rain or warm temperatures. Frozen
granular will support a ski pole stuck into its surface while ice will chip
away and not support a pole.
Wet Granular-WETGR: Loose or frozen granular snow which becomes wet after
rainfall or high temperatures.
Icy-ICE: Not to be confused with frozen granular, ice is a hard, glazed
surface created either by freezing rain, ground water seeping up into the snow
and freezing or by the rapid freezing of snow saturated with water from rain
or melting. Ice will chip away and not support a ski pole when stuck into it.
Variable Conditions-VC: When no primary surface (70%) can be determined,
variable conditions describe a range of surfaces that a skier may encounter.
Parts of trails can be Loose Granular, partly Packed Powder, and parts Frozen
Granular, for example.
Corn Snow-CORN: Usually found in the spring, Corn Snow is characterized
by large, loose granules during the day, which freeze together at night, then
warm up again and loosen during the day.
Spring Conditions-SC: This is the spring version of Variable Conditions.
It is used when no one surface can describe 70% or more of the terrain open
Windblown Snow-WBLN: Powder or granular snow which has been blown by wind
into forming a base.