A taxonomy of snow | Bleader

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

A taxonomy of snow

Posted By on 03.04.14 at 03:38 PM

Its like the Great Barrier Reef, only its on a street in Rogers Park and there are no fish.
  • Aimee Levitt
  • It's like the Great Barrier Reef, only it's on a street in Rogers Park and there are no fish.
It's March. We're all still wearing our snow boots and long underwear, which are starting to get a little rank by now. There's not enough booze, Girl Scout cookies, or even paczki in this whole stupid world to compensate for this shitty, shitty winter. But if you still have a molecule of optimism left inside of you, try to see last weekend's snowstorm not as another opportunity to pretend you're living in Siberia (you are a political prisoner, you have been sent to the gulag, your continued survival is a triumph of the human spirit, etc) but as a chance to get to know snow in all its multifarious forms. Hey, it's not often that you get to see dirty, month-old snow and fresh, new snow all at once. Plus, temperatures this week have soared all the way into the 20s, which means prime snow-spotting weather!

Herewith a guide to all the exciting different kinds of snow that may be piled up on your very own curb:

How many types of snow can you spot in this photo?
  • Aimee Levitt
  • How many types of snow can you spot in this photo?

Powder: The freshest, purest, most lovely snow, all white and clean, the kind that makes you think of soft hotel beds and snow angels. Until you remember that you have to go out and shovel it.

New snow: Snow where you can still distinguish and recognize individual crystals.

Old snow: Snow where the crystals have been crushed beyond recognition. (Sort of like your soul this winter.)

Perennial snow: Snow that never fucking goes away.

Slush: Partially melted snow. Sometimes it looks like ice, but then you step on it and you soak your shoes and sometimes your socks too.

Crud: Snow that has been trudged over many times, so some parts are packed and some aren't. Snowboarders love it. If you're just a regular pedestrian, it's really hard to walk on. You will try to convince yourself that your leg muscles are getting a fabulous workout, but within a few minutes, you'll be cursing the asshole who didn't bother to shovel the walk like they were supposed to.

A more picturesque view of crud.
  • coloradoskiblog.com
  • A more picturesque view of crud.

Yellow snow: Created and loved by dogs everywhere. Known in Tajik as "zard barf." (Really.)

Névé: Snow that melted a little and then froze again. This is likely the stuff that has trapped your car so it spins its wheels without getting anywhere. (Similarity to your life is too obvious to point out.) It's also the first step in creating a glacier.

Firn: What névé turns into if it's able to exist through the spring, summer, and fall, the next step in glacier creation.

Penitents: Tall, needle-like formations of hardened snow. They also usually only form in dry areas, so you probably will not be able to find them here, but they look really cool.

Penitents in the Argentinian Andes.

Snow rollers: A sort of snow tumbleweed, formed around a core of icy snow and then buffeted by strong winds.

A snow roller photographed near Cincinnati.

Snirt: Unscientific term for a mixture of snow and dirt. In Scottish, however, it means a suppressed laugh, the noise you make when someone tells you spring is coming.

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