Pay close attention to the ski report and the condition of the slopes before you head out, because all snow is not created equally when it comes to skiing and snowboarding. 

What You Need To Know

  • A wide variety of snow conditions can be found on the ski slopes

  • Know the difference between fresh powder and packed powder

  • We break down which is the best for skiing and snowboarding

A little background first

Before I became a broadcast meteorologist, one of the best jobs I had was being a ski instructor in Colorado. I got paid for being outside and having fun on the slopes each day! Unfortunately, it was just a seasonal job and my true passion was forecasting the weather, so I chose that path instead. 

The reason I tell you this is because I know a thing or two about skiing and snowboarding and which type of snow is best to have a great time.

Before you head out this winter, pay close attention to the daily ski report. It will give you important information about the weather and the condition of the ski trails. Let's break down the different types of slope conditions and which is best for skiing and boarding. 

Packed powder

Packed powder is just what it sounds like: snow that has been packed down solid, by either people or grooming machines that many bigger resorts use. Packed powder usually occurs when snow fell several days ago but no new snow has fallen since. 

Its consistency is usually hard, but it's still soft enough so that your skis or snowboard can dig in and get plenty of traction. For the beginners out there, this might not be the best day to hit the slopes because you can get going fast on packed powder and it hurts if you fall on it. 

Fresh powder

Ahhhh...fresh pow pow! This is a skier and snowboarder's dream day on the slopes. Snow has fallen the night before and left a fresh blanket of snow on the trails! Skiing or snowboarding on powder is much softer and easier on the joints. It is also much easier to make sharp turns or slow down if need be.

This would be the day for beginners to head out because falling doesn't hurt! A few inches of new snow is best but if it gets too deep, that can also cause problems and make it difficult to navigate through. 

When the weather doesn't cooperate, machines have to step in to help out.

My advice: pick a day where the sun is shining, air temperatures are in the teens and 20s and where 2-4" of fresh snow has fallen the night before for an incredible day on the slopes!