Activities The Great Outdoors A Guide to the Different Types of Snow Share PINTEREST Email Print Getty Images / mbbirdy The Great Outdoors Skiing Basics Gear Climbing Snowboarding Surfing Paddling Fishing Sailing Scuba Diving & Snorkeling By Mike Doyle Mike Doyle Mike Doyle is an award-winning skiing journalist who grew up in New York snow country and has skied all over the world. Learn about our Editorial Process Updated on 02/15/19 If you're an avid skier, it's important to know about the different types of snow--and there are a lot. This knowledge can help you interpret the latest ski reports. More importantly, it can help you become a better skier as you learn to recognize the challenges (and joys) that different snow types present. Snow Glossary Ball Bearings - Little firm balls of snow that form around or under skis. Blue - Clear ice, the ground is visible underneath it. Breakable Crust - Top is frozen solid but underneath there is soft powder. Brown - Mud showing through, often during springtime. Bulletproof - White, but so densely packed it is hard to carve into. California Concrete - Heavy wet snow that is created by a Pacific storm. Chokable - Powder that is so fine and deep you could choke on it. Chop - Powder that has had several fresh trails carved through it, but few lumps. Chowder - Heavy, wet, lumpy snow. Colorado Super Chunk - Heavy, wet snow about two days after a spring storm. Cornice - A formation of windblown snow, also known as an overhang, that is unstable and hard to see from the windward side. Cauliflower - Snow found near the base of the snow gun, lumpy and ungroomed. Champagne Powder - Snow with extremely low moisture content, often found out West. Cold Smoke - The airy trail of powder that follows skiers in fresh powder. Corduroy - The finely ridged surface of the snow after a snowcat has groomed a trail. Corn - Wet and granular, as it melts during the day it may become sloppy and heavy. Crud - Powder that has been heavily skied on and needs to be groomed. Crust - Soft snow that has a frozen top layer caused by freezing rain or melting and refreezing. Dust on Crust - A light covering of loose snow on top of the snow that has a hard, icy outer layer. Freshie - Virgin new-fallen snow on the mountain found first thing in the morning. Frozen Granular - Snow with a consistency like sugar. Granular - Snow that has big flakes that resemble rock salt. Grapple - Small hail or sleet that may be rounder and thicker than typical hail or sleet. Hardpack Snow - Firm compressed snow that is almost icy. Loose Granular - Small, loose pellets of snow created by the grooming of wet or icy snow. Mashed Potatoes - Lumpy, soft snow usually found in springtime. Penitents - Tall blades of snow found at higher altitudes. Pillow Drift- A snow drift across a road. Poo Ice - Packed, dirty snow. Pow-Pow or Pow-Fresh - Loose and fluffy powder. Powder - Freshly fallen, extremely soft snow formed by tiny flakes. Packed Powder - Snow that is compressed and flattened either by ski traffic or by grooming equipment. Salt on Formica - Looks and feels like loose white salt granules sliding on top of a hard surface. Sierra Cement - Similar to mashed potato snow but cold, very heavy, wet, and often found in the Sierra Mountain range. Slush - Snow that is starting to melt, very heavy and very wet. Smud - Brown or muddy snow. Snirt - Snow covered in dirt, most often during the spring months. Snowdrift - Large piles of snow near walls or curbs formed by the wind. Souffle Dure - Naturally packed, firm snow that occurs after a snowfall on steep, north-facing gullies called couloir. Styrofoam - Looks and feels like skiing on Styrofoam and sounds very hollow or empty. Surface Hoar - Corn-flake shaped frost that forms on the surface of snowpack on cold, clear nights. Snow Grains - Very small, white, grains of ice. Snow Pellets - A form of precipitation that is created when supercooled droplets of water collect and freeze on a snowflake. Watermelon - A reddish/pink snow that smells like watermelon, caused by red-green algae. Wet Granular: Very wet snow, often found in spring conditions, that packs easily. Wet Powder - Powder that has been rained on, making it very fast and hard to ski on. Wind Slab - A layer of stiff, hard snow created by deposition of wind-blown snow on the leeward side of a ridge. Yukimarimo - Balls of fine frost formed at low temperature in places like Antarctica during weak wind conditions. Zastrugi - Snow surfaces created by wind blowing into ridges and grooves.