I Bet You Didn’t Think Snow Was Made Like This

Snow occurs when the atmospheric pressure drops below freezing point. When the temperature in the atmosphere drops below freezing, the water particles stored in clouds freezes. As the water particle, that is now frozen, makes its way through the atmosphere it goes through several different temperatures, and picks up water particles as it falls. The process of freezing and unfreezing creates snowflakes.

Types of Snow 

There are several different types of snow, and all of it depends on the temperature in the clouds, the amount of moisture present and the temperature on the ground.

Powder Snow

It occurs when the temperature in the atmosphere and the temperature on the ground are below freezing. This leaves less moisture in the snow, and creates the soft, small, and powdery flakes that are great for skiing and snowboarding.

Wet Snow

It occurs when the temperature on the ground and in the atmosphere are slightly higher. While the temperature in the clouds is still at or below freezing, the ground temperature is slightly higher. As the snow falls, it picks up additional water particles and begins to melt. For snow to cover the ground, it must be below 41 degrees on the ground, but the snow creates a cooling effect for the air around it. This creates the “wet’ snow, that is considered best for making snowballs and snowmen, but it is considered less ideal for winter sports.

Man-Made Snow 

Synthetic snow is somewhat of a controversial topic among those who spend the majority of their winter on the slopes. Man-made snow, to most, is considered inferior to fresh, natural snow, but if weather conditions do not allow for natural snow to fall, resorts must rely on man-made snow to ensure that as many ski runs as possible remain open, while everyone awaits the arrival of a natural snow storm.

Man-made snow, or snowmaking, is simply the process of pushing atomized water particles, through a gun that creates high pressure. The water particles shoot out and hit the cold, dry atmosphere, and freeze before hitting the ground. The “pellets” of “snow” created serve as the snow you would see on trails that have not received enough natural snow. The pellets of “snow” are mixed with natural snow to create a blanket of snow across the trail. There are several types of snowmaking machines; some utilize a fan to blow the snow across a large area, while others are an air gun that blows the snow high into the air, allowing the water particles to freeze and disperse across a smaller area.


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