moisture content

it has been mentioned before that this is an important factor sometime but how is it actually measured?

i assume that light puffy snow is low and heavy wet snow is high but to what extreme is this a factor?

GeoffD Veteran
I can't remember the terms the weather man use.

Heavy wet snow (high Moisture), generally have large sized snow flakes. Light snow (low Moisture) small flakes.

I a plowers world. Anyone can move the light stuff, the heavy stuff is when things get nasty. Heavier snow, is harder on the truck, harder to stack (most times). If you stop half way across the lot, with a full blade, it's not even going to be fun, when you restart.



Senior Member
When you have a wet heavy snow if the lot is not done properly a pile of snow can be created that can not be moved with anything but a loader or alot of time picking away with a pickup.Sometimes there is water squirting out of wet heavy snow as it gets pushed up in to a pile.

You only discussed two types of snow,the problem is that every time it snows the snow is a little diffrent.For me I would much rather have heavy snow than what we call "BB" snow which is a constant game of clean up, as all of these little balls of ice roll off the end of your blades,this kind of snow is like pushing water. Heavy snow at least allows,with proper plowing technique, for large areas to be cleaned quickly, especially with a V plow.

AK Snow

Junior Member
Warning - Weather Geek Talk to follow!

I spent a little over 20 years as a weatherman in the Air Force, so for what its worth to you...

Weather types look at this question as a factor of the water equivelent of snow. The depth of new snowfall is measured every 3 hours. The new snow is then melted and the resulting amount of water is measured. For example, if 3 inches of snow fell and resulted in the equivelent of 3/10ths of an inch of rainfall, the snow would have a 10 to 1 water equivelent. Typically, the colder it is the drier the snow will be. Here in Fairbanks our average annual water equivelent for snow is about 40 to 1 - very dry snow. I've lived in other places where that number was more like 12 to 1. The wetter snow is the heavier it is the more likely it is to freeze into a large unmanagable heap. The local National Weather Service office can provide numbers about the water equivelent for snow events although I'm not sure how much use the info would be after the fact - for the real serious folks I guess a person could develop stats on the time it takes to complete jobs, or fuel consumption relative to water equivelent. Could be an interesting basis for determining prices for doing a single push. "How much to plow my driveway?" "Well first I'll need to determine your water equivelent" Start charging extra for taking such a scienctific approach!

Q: How do you tell when the weatherman is lying?
A: Because his lips are moving!


Chuck Smith

2000 Club Member
Thanks Dave, NOW I have to find a graduated cylinder somewhere! All kidding aside, you explained it very well. I'm seriously going to get one of those graduated cylinders though.... ;)


AK Snow

Junior Member

Call you local NWS office and ask about volunteering for the co-op observer program. My wife works as a co-op up here and they provided her with a rain/snow gauge (the cylinder your thinking of) and a max/min thermometer. You take one observation a day - recording max/min temp, rain or snow, and the general weather trend throughout that day. Record it all on a form and mail it in once a month. Most NWS offices are always looking for new co-op observers and for a guy in the snow business having a working relationship with the local NWS guys could prove helpful.



2000 Club Member
If you want to know about water content in snow, when the snow has a blue hue to it, it is wet and heavy. Just something I observed over the years.
Digger I cant think of the term at the moment, but there is a word that desribes the snow you speak of.
Chuck help me out, you once sent me a link that defined different types of winter precip, and it was in there.

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