nekonexus: (holiday pig)
[personal profile] nekonexus
This tweet was making the rounds the other day, which I found ironic, given how Kiro and I had been discussing at least the first part of the statement very recently:

RT: The Inuit have seventeen different words for "snow". The British have seventeen different phrases for "Oh, for FUCK's sake."

My Brit friends can attest to the latter, or not, as they see fit. Also, glad to see the author used Inuit and not Eskimo. But you know, the average Canadian (and, I dare say, the average person who lives with snow for more than one month a year) has a lot of words for snow. We may even have an Alot of Snow. Yus. Here's my catalogue (alphebetized because I can):

Snow words that stand alone:
blizzard - death in snow form. High winds, intense cold, snow that just won't stop.
flurries (or snurries) - the light, gentle stuff they use in movies. Snurries being the slightly more vigorous version, or just the one you use when you are lazy and tired of saying "snow flurries".
powder - skiing types should know this one: it's the super-light dusty stuff they like to manufacture for ski hills. The naturally occuring version is dry snow.
sleet - sheets of icy snow fall from the sky. Hard.
slush - half-melted snow, often more than a half-inch deep, just waiting to soak through your shoes if you were foolish enough to think "ah, the snow is melting! I don't need boots."
snain - also known as "mixed precipitation" or when the weather can't make up its fucking mind about whether it's going to rain or snow.
snow - the generic version. It's snowing.
whiteout - you're driving (or walking) along, minding your own business, when suddenly, there is nothing but white. And cold. Cold and white. That is a whiteout. Less intense and more localized than a blizzard, but disorienting as fuck.

Compound snow words:
lake-effect snow - a storm crosses a lake, picking up moisture, hits land, and dumps a metric fuck-ton of snow as it does so.
snow belt - a region in Ontario stretching from the western Great Lakes across the central portion, through 'cottage country', wherein snow is more frequent, heavier, and prone to violent conditions (see lake-effect, snowsqualls, and whiteouts as the most common snows in this region). Good skiing here, if you're into that.
snow drift - (not the same as drifting snow) A pile of snow pushed up into a heap by the wind. Will form any damn place it pleases, such as the middle of the road (after the plow has been by), or the sidewalk, or your yard.
snowfall - See entry under "snow words requiring modifiers"
snowpack - the base layer, often featuring an ice crust, when the snow just keeps coming in waves, rather than a steady snowfall.
snow pellets - tiny little icy particles that try to pierce your skull.
snowsquall - sudden intense storm, forms around lakes, often accompanied by whiteouts. You'll know one if it hits you. Localized and not terribly long in duration. See also lake-effect snow.
snowstorm - there is a storm, like unto storms you have in summer, except it's made of snow, not rain. Not quite as bad as blizzard.

Snow words requiring modifier:
blowing snow - wind-driven snow. Occurs with and without actual snowfall. Can lead to whiteouts.
drifting snow - (not the same as snow drift) sneaky snow that is not actually falling, but comes from nowhere in particular, or a drift that you didn't notice, and is suddenly in your way. Dangerous on highways, where drifting snow can turn into snow drifts and cause 30 car pile-ups.
dry snow - much like powder. Light, fluffy, easy to shovel, unless it's windy. Usually accompanied by intense cold.
[heavy|light] snowfall (trust me, it makes a difference) - most often used in forecasts announcing "a heavy snowfall warning is in effect." Can also be summarized as "a wall of snow will soon fall on you. Have fun digging yourself out."
wet snow - heavy, sticky, dense stuff, great for making snow people, snow forts, snowballs, etc, but death to the back if you have to shovel.

A word I learned from the Weather Network today:
snow roller - formed when the wind blows wet snow into a roll. Like a tumbleweed made of snow. Often blamed on kids in urban areas, but is naturally forming.

So. That's 22 words for snow. Did I miss any? ^_~

ETA: Yes, I forgot:
granular snow - the result of snow pellets forming a layer on the snowpack.
Alberta clipper - fast moving snowstorm that originates off the Rockies, often giving Alberta a chinook (warm weather) before it barrels across the country to pick up lake-effect moisture and dump on the Eastern seaboard.

Date: 2010-12-23 08:35 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] flemmings.livejournal.com
Local variation? Wet snow is called 'packing snow' where I come from. But I feel a difference, at least in-city (all I really know.) Wet snow is halfway to slush by the time it hits the ground. Packing snow isn't as wet, but is the stuff that's good for making snowmen etc. The diff between just above freezing snow and 28F snow, more or less.

Had never heard of snain; this weather channel follower calls it 'mixed precipitation' by instinct. Possibly for the same reason, 'trace snow' is part of my vocabulary. I mean, it's usually just the aftereffect of flurries trying to drift, only there isn't enough of it to do so and what you get is snow tails (or arrowhead shapes) on the road.

Date: 2010-12-26 05:06 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] nekonexus.livejournal.com
Packing snow is a useful variation. *nod*

Kiro points out that snain is actually a conlang word of my own invention and no one uses it but me. ^_^; Well.

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