Use these Snow-Friendly Terms on the Slopes
to Sound Like a Ski Pro
This glossary of snow condition definition and terms is used by all ski areas when they reporting to SnoCountry Reports. The code allows for communication with skiers in a universal language... now you can use it too, and head for your adventurous travels on-the-go and in-the-know!
NOTE: The standard abbreviations next to each definition reflect how you'll find the latest ski reports communicated in newspapers and updates.
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 percent of the skiing terrain.
Powder-PDR: Cold, new, loose, fluffy, flaky and dry snow which has not been compacted.
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: Previously packed natural or machine made snow that 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 misunder-stood 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 for skiers.
Windblown Snow-WBLN: Powder or granular snow which has been blown by wind into forming a base.