Weight of Snow Comprehensive Reference Chart

By Roof Online Staff • Updated September 23, 2022

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weight of snow

Introduction

The weight of snow is a vital piece of information. Whole sections of the building code are based on knowing how much additional weight a structure will need to support due to the typical snow loads in a given region.

There is no foolproof rule of thumb regarding snow weight. To estimate snow weight accurately, you need to know the conditions under which the snow formed, and what conditions the snow has experienced since it fell.

Snow can vary in weight from a little over a pound to as much as 30 pounds per cubic foot. Fresh, dry, fluffy snow might only weigh about four pounds per cubic foot. Snow that has been sitting for a few days under normal conditions will usually weigh around 15 pounds per cubic foot.

But there are variables, and they make a big difference.

What Determines Snow Density?

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.

Wind abrades snow particles, making them smaller so they fit together more tightly, compacting the snow, so snow will be heavier after windy weather.

The weight of this fresh snow is probably about four pounds per cubic foot.
Ordinary fresh-fallen snow. This snow probably weighs about four pounds per cubic foot.

Why You Should Know How Heavy Snow Is

The weight of snow can be 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.

Roof collapse due to the weight of snow exceeding the load-bearing capacity of a roof structure is a primary concern of people looking up the weight of snow. For in-depth information on how the weight of snow may affect your roof, please see the links available on our page Snow Issues and Roofs.

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.

About Our Snow Weight Table

The following table provides the typical weight of snow (or snow density) for snow that has formed and accumulated under various conditions.

Weights for air, ice, and liquid water are also included, as these are the three principal components of snow. The weight of snow is a product of the percentage of each of these things within a given volume of snow. (We do not account for dirt, debris, etc. when calculating the weight of snow.)

Table: Weight of Snow for Various Snow Types

All weights given in this table are approximations and real world values will vary.

Weight of Snow
Type of Snow Lbs per Inch of Depth per Square Foot
(Average)
Lbs per Cubic Foot
(lb/ft³)
(Average)
Lbs per Cubic Foot
(lb/ft³)
(Range)
Grams per Cubic Centimeter
(g/cm³)
(Range)
Kg per Cubic Meter
(kg/m³)
(Average)
Kg per Centimeter of Depth per Square Meter
(Average)
Air
(Average weight of air at sea level at freezing.)
0.007 lbs 0.08
lb/ft³
0.08
lb/ft³
0.0013
g/cm³
1.29
kg/m³
0.0129 kg
Wild Snow
(Light, very dry new snow. Snow immediately after falling, in extremely cold temperatures, with no wind.)
0.1 lbs 1.25
lb/ft³
0.62 – 1.87
lb/ft³
0.01 – 0.03
g/cm³
20
kg/m³
0.20 kg
Ordinary New Snow
(Snow immediately after falling, in below-freezing temperatures, with no wind; fresh, uncompacted snow that has a high volume of trapped air.)
0.3 lbs 3.59
lb/ft³
3.12 – 4.06
lb/ft³
0.05 – 0.065
g/cm³
57.5
kg/m³
0.58 kg
New Snow Slightly Compacted by Wind
(Snow immediately after falling, in below-freezing temperatures, with some wind exposure. Less trapped air.)
0.37 lbs 4.46
lb/ft³
3.93 – 4.99
lb/ft³
0.063 – 0.08
g/cm³
71.5
kg/m³
0.715 kg
Settling Snow
(Snow less than a day old that is starting to experience some wind and temperature variation.)
0.68 lbs 8.12
lb/ft³
4.37 – 11.86
lb/ft³
0.07 – 0.19
g/cm³
130
kg/m³
1.30 kg
Damp New Snow
(Snow immediately after falling, in slightly above-freezing temperatures, with little wind exposure.)
0.78 lbs 9.37
lb/ft³
6.24 – 12.49
lb/ft³
0.1 – 0.2
g/cm³
150
kg/m³
1.50 kg
Sugar Snow
(Snow with large grains formed when water vapor freezes onto existing snow crystals.)
1.04 lbs 12.49
lb/ft³
6.24 – 18.73
lb/ft³
0.1 – 0.3
g/cm³
200
kg/m³
2 kg
Settled Snow
(Typical after more than one day in place. Snow that has experienced some temperature and wind variation.)
1.3 lbs 15.61
lb/ft³
12.49 – 18.73
lb/ft³
0.2 – 0.3
g/cm³
250
kg/m³
2.5 kg
Average Wind-Toughened Snow
(Compacted snow after wind exposure in below-freezing temperatures.)
1.46 lbs 17.48
lb/ft³
17.48
lb/ft³
0.28
g/cm³
280
kg/m³
2.8 kg
Wet Snow
(Dense, sticky snow in relatively warm temperatures with little wind. Good snow for making snowballs.)
1.75 lbs 21
lb/ft³
17 – 25
lb/ft³
0.27 – 0.40
g/cm³
335
kg/m³
3.35 kg
Wind-Packed Snow
(Hard Wind Slab. Compacted snow after prolonged and heavy wind exposure.)
1.98 lbs 23.73
lb/ft³
21.85 – 25.6
lb/ft³
0.35 – 0.41
g/cm³
380
kg/m³
3.8 kg
New Firn Snow
(Firn is granular, icy, highly-compacted, pre-glacial snow. Some ice present.)
2.47 lbs 29.66
lb/ft³
24.97 – 34.34
lb/ft³
0.40 – 0.55
g/cm³
475
kg/m³
4.75 kg
Advanced Firn Snow 3.12 lbs 37.46
lb/ft³
34.34 – 40.58
lb/ft³
0.55 – 0.65
g/cm³
600
kg/m³
6 kg
Thawing Firn Snow 3.38 lbs 40.58
lb/ft³
37.46 – 43.70
lb/ft³
0.6 – 0.7
g/cm³
650
kg/m³
6.5 kg
Slush
(Advanced melting snow; snow/water mix.)
3.75 lbs 45
lb/ft³
35 – 55
lb/ft³
0.56 – 0.88
g/cm³
720
kg/m³
7.2 kg
Ice with Air Bubbles
(Cloudy ice.)
4.5 lbs 54
lb/ft³
51.19 – 56.81
lb/ft³
0.82 – 0.91
g/cm³
873
kg/m³
8.73 kg
Pure Ice
(Ice with no entrapped air.)
4.77 lbs 57.25
lb/ft³
57.25
lb/ft³
0.92
g/cm³
917
kg/m³
9.17 kg
Water
(At sea level just above freezing.)
5.2 lbs 62.43
lb/ft³
62.43
lb/ft³
1
g/cm³
1000
kg/m³
10 kg

Snow Weight References

  1. 2018 International Building Code, Chapter 16 Structural Design, Section 1608 Snow Loads; International Code Council; 2017
  2. All About Snow, National Snow and Ice Data Center
  3. Handbook of Snow: Principles, Processes, Management & Use; Gray and Male; 1981
  4. The International Classification for Seasonal Snow on the Ground; International Association of Cryospheric Sciences; 2009
  5. Snow Structure and Ski Fields, being an Account of Snow and Ice Forms met with in Nature and a study on Avalanches and Snowcraft; G. Seligman; With an Appendix on Alpine Weather; C. K. M. Douglas; 1936