The Difference Between Wet and Dry Snow

A significant winter storm is expected to slam the northeastern United States tomorrow.  The type of snow it produces will depend on the temperature profile of the atmosphere.

Air temperatures hovering near the freezing point produce large, partially melted snowflakes – wet snow. This type of snow is very dense and good for making snow-people.  However, it is very heavy and difficult to shovel. Dry snow, on the other hand, is more powdery and does not pack as well.  It falls as numerous small flakes when the air temperature is below 28°F.

In terms of snow to liquid equivalency, the general rule of thumb is ten inches of snow melts into one inch of liquid water.  This ratio, however, tends to vary widely with different types of snow. For example, it can take as much as fifteen inches of dry, fluffy snow to yield one inch of liquid water, while only five inches of wet snow can do the same.