Here it comes, get ready!. Thanksgiving break is now over. Students are returning back to school with a-huff-and-a-puff, knowing final exams are right around the corner. The only thing that might send out cheer is the anticipation of some white winter fun on the way.. Most importantly-snow! Being an all-things-weather enthusiast, I have been intrigued with those delicate, wet snowflakes and have noted a plethora of pattern shapes and styles. Well there is plenty of different styles of snow formation as well. Since there are a variety of types, I will only concentrate on three; crust,cornice, and penitents.
What do you think of when you hear “crust”? Since it’s getting closer to the holidays, I predict you thought of pie. I know I sure did! Imagine applying pressure to that outer crust of a blueberry pie. It holds up for quite a bit until it breaks into some warm, sugary goodness. Well you can relate that to snow crust! It is hard snow on the outer layer and softer snow on the inside layer. Its formed from sunny days, wind, and even rain. If you ever walked on snow crust, you could stand for a couple seconds on it before it would break and your feet would sink.
Shown above in figure 1 is a cornice. Usually cornices are seen in mountainous areas and are extremely beautiful.They sometimes seem enticing to sit or stand on for some admittedly great photos. But for the sake of your safety, please don’t! They are formed from ice accumulation or snow that has been blown over and stuck. If you do stand on them, they may or may not hold. Better safe than sorry! Enjoying them from afar is always a pleasure.
And last, but not least…Penitents! These pointy snow formations (shown in Fig. 2) can range from a couple inches to a couple feet. This could be quite amazing if you walk past a penitent the size of you. Although, you might have to travel quite a distance. According to the National Snow & Ice Data Center, they are mostly found around “Dry Andes or in the mountains surrounding Death Valley in California”. Even though it’s quite a distance, it would be well worth it to see these fascinating statuesque snow formations.
By Courtney Steimann
“Types of Snow.” All About Snow. National Snow and Ice Data Center, n.d. Web. 30 Nov. 2016. .