Edmonton·The snow we know

The shades of snow in Alberta

With another big dump of snow across the province, we've compiled a primer on the different species of snow that one might come across during winter in our province. And, of course, we're looking for your own definitions.

With another big dump of snow across the province, people across Alberta are digging themselves out. To help put a name to the enemy, we've compiled a primer on the different species of snow that one might come across during winter in Alberta.

Here are some of the types identified by us in the Edmonton newsroom. But the list is incomplete — send in the other types that you've come across in your time in Alberta by tweeting us @CBCEdmonton or through email at webedmonton@cbc.ca and we'll add them. 

The Shovel Stopper

It looks like regular snow... until you try to clear it off your sidewalk and realize this snow weighs approximately nine million times as much as regular snow weighs. This stuff is dense. And it comes in two handy varieties: wet and rock. While the wet snow simply gives you a good workout to clear, the dry version is more akin to shovelling through concrete.

Chocolate Mousse

The snow that sits uncleared, typically on high-traffic streets. It eventually becomes brown and slushy and resembles a frozen, chocolate  dessert. Makes you want to curl up with a bowl of brown sugar porridge and a glass of rum. Especially challenging for winter cyclists.

Icing Sugar

Light, powdery and gives everything a nice even dusting. So pretty you don't want it to melt. Perfect for holiday photos!

Squeaky Snow

When temperatures drop below minus 20, dry Edmonton snow takes on a particularly granular, squeaky quality, guaranteed to let out a high pitched squeal and crunch when the heel of your boot lands. It's the snowy equivalent of nails on a chalkboard.

The Perfect Snow

The snow everyone loves — usually the first snowfall of the year. Big, fat, fluffy snowflakes that fall lazily, evoking nostalgic thoughts of kids skating on frozen ponds. The best part — it is a cinch to shovel! Lasts about 20 minutes before it is dirty and everyone is tired of it.

Yellow Snow

Enough said. Avoid at all costs.

Snow Darts

Somewhere in between freezing rain and snow flakes lies the Ninja Throwing Star of precipitation. Shaped more like a pellet than a flake, the snow dart seems to appear only on the windiest of days, leaving you feeling like you've been through a thousand tiny knife fights by the time you've reached your destination.  They find your face no matter which direction you point.  There is no magic in this snow at all.

The Shards 

All sharp around the edges. Almost seems half ice and half snow. Very pretty and makes you want to get out a microscope for a closer look.

The Snowglobe

So very pretty. Until you can't find your car.

Sculpting Snow 

Comes early in the season, or late. Heavy wet snow that can be moulded into shapes - forts or creatures. Makes you want to throw on your snow pants and start hurling snowballs at your kids, spouse, neighbours- all under the guise of good, clean fun. Usually requires multiple pairs of gloves or mittens since they quickly become sodden.


When temperatures are just below zero and snow crystals refuse to bind to each other, makes transversing back alleys and side streets like walking over shifting sand.

Sparkly Snow

You could wear this snow to your Christmas party and light up the room. It's light, it's fluffy, and it radiates silver sparkles. Makes the winter vista ever so cheerful.

Hollywood Snow

 Light. Fluffy. Like popcorn. Sparkly. Shiny. Always ready for a close-up. With my trusty shovel.

The Trap

After a warmish day, the top layer of snow will melt and refreeze, creating a hard crust. Hides the loose snow below, convincing you that it is solid enough to walk across -- and now it is in your boot.


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