The snow report is an important part of the general forecast providing information about what conditions to expect. The snow report generally comprises two main parts.
Type Of Snow
The snow report can give an indication of what type of snow to expect on the mountain, how much has fallen and how it has settled on the ground. There are different definitions of snowfall that describe the total snowfall of a particular storm - from a flurry (describing light snowfall) to blizzard or snow storm (heavy snowfall). Snow can form in different ways and this affects the type of snow that falls. The classic star shaped snow flake, known as a dendrite, is the type most people associate with snowfall. When the snow forms into a ball rather than a flake this is known as Graupel. This includes sleet and hail. Other types of flake include columns, rimed snow and needles. The final way that types of snow are defined is by how the snow settles on the ground. The ideal conditions are powder snow, when off piste skiing is at its best. When the powder has been skied on by a number of skiers it is known as chopped powder. The powder snow gets packd down to form packed powder. Artificial snow is used in resorts too ensure that the slopes have the best possible covering. Other types of snow, depending on conditions, include slush and ice.
The snow report gives an indication of the avalanche risk for the day. An avalanche bulletin is issued daily and the risk - ranging from one (low risk) to five (high risk) is displayed at lift stations. It is also possible to find it online in order to be prepared before leaving for a day on the slopes. The off piste risk is usually at its highest during and immediately after a storm. High winds can also make the snowpack more unstable. Avalanche training is available in resort and it is advisable to only head off piste when equipped with the correct avalanche kit - shovel, transceiver and probe- and to be trained in their use. There are other precautions that can be taken as well, such as letting people know where you are going and when you expect to be back and always going off piste with others. It is not a good idea to ever head off piste alone.