SNOW WEIGHT AND DENSITY - Snow is less dense than water. A cubic foot of snow can weigh anywhere between 1 to 20 pounds per cubic foot, depending on moisture content. The actual water content of snow generally ranges from 5% to 32%.
Snow density is a function of temperature, wind exposure, and time.
Snow density increases over time as the snow experiences more changes in temperature and wind. Warmer temperatures lead to higher (and heavier) moisture content; the water may re-freeze into ice when the temperature drops.
Had to wear the SNOW DRESS for this one! ❄️ Did you know that there are different shaped snowflakes? And it all depends on the temperature? pic.twitter.com/GLmXrk0bXX— Brittney Merlot ❄ (@MerlotsWeather) January 25, 2022
Wind also scrapes or wears away by friction or erosion on snowflakes, making them smaller, where they fit together more tightly, compacting the snow. This results in heavier and more dense snow, simply due to the windy weather.
The weight of snow is such an important piece of information for a number of reasons...
For instance, a typical scoop of snow with a snow shovel is about 1.5 cubic feet, so there’s a good chance you’re out there lifting more than 30 lbs. over and over again while you’re clearing your driveway. It’s good to know the weight of snow. If it's heavier, frequent breaks are important as over exertion is likely and it's been coined "heart attack" snow for that very reason.
Roofs can also collapse, due to the weight of snow exceeding the load-bearing capacity of a roof structure. Most homes can only hold 20lbs/sq.ft.
In the video above, Meteorologist Brittney Merlot breaks down the science behind 3 different snow weights and amounts and tells us when we need to start paying attention the weight risks.
If you’re considering trying to remove snow from your roof yourself, please see these snow rakes (on Amazon). They are designed to allow snow to be removed while you are standing on the ground. Using a ladder in the snow can be extremely dangerous.
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