In Alaska, the Inuets will use different words to describe what kind of snow is falling.

They have one common name for snow, but the other words describe how that snow is falling.

qanuk: 'snowflake'
kaneq: 'frost'
kanevvluk: 'fine snow'
qanikcaq: 'snow on ground'
muruaneq: 'soft deep snow'
nutaryuk: 'fresh snow'
pirta: 'blizzard'
qengaruk: 'snow bank'

Turns out it's not only the Inuets that have special names for different types of snow.

I found up to 40 different snow names in the American English language.

Here is a short list.


A word we use for light little flits of snow that drift casually through the air.


That means ice pellets. They are usually tiny and can call like tiny little rain pellets, but don't cause any damage. Though it does make the road slick.

Powder snow

Powder is the light and fluffy stuff.  It's a dryer type of snow. Skiers Like the Powder ... Powdery snow works best for your downhill action, as the snow doesn't stick to the skis, and it offers the best traction for sharp ...


Here's one you may not have heard before. Also called snow pellets, graupel refers to round, opaque snowflakes that almost look like polystyrene pellets.

Ground blizzard

This is a snowstorm that is common here in Wyoming. The wind blows already frozen snow low across the ground.

Finger drift

A narrow snowdrift across a roadway.


The type of snowflake that is much longer than it is wide.


You don't want to hear this word thrown around. That's heavy snow being pushed by a mighty western wind causing a whiteout.


This is the biggie. A whiteout is a blizzard or squall that reduces visibility to near zero.

I want a special name for those wonderful big fat snowflakes that come slowly drifting down.

WEIRD Wyoming Snow Drifts April Blizzard 2022

Gallery Credit: Glenn Woods

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