Michigan snow: What type of snow did we get and how much does it weigh?

By the time we get to the end of the day on Wednesday, we'll have likely six inches of snow on the ground. Before you run out to clear the drive or sidewalk or even get some snow off the edge of your house, you need to know that this is some heavy snow.

We're looking at roughly 5 to 8 inches of snow by the time this snowmaker moves out. But there's something important to note: this is very heavy snow.

What kind of snow are we getting?

There are three different kinds of snow: fluffy snow that's soft and doesn't have a lot of moisture, normal snow which has some moisture but not a lot, and then there's the wet snow.

We're getting the really wet snow. Which means there's a lot of moisture in it.

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How heavy is this snow?

We can tell you that the snow has a 5 to 1 ratio. What does that mean? Well, consider what one inch of rain is and that is equal to five inches of snow.

For fluffy snow, that ratio is 15 to 1. Normal snow has a ratio of 10 to 1. But again, this is the wet stuff so it's much heavier.

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If you were take a square foot of fluffy snow, it would weigh about 4 pounds. That same size of normal snow is 6 pounds. But the wet stuff? A square foot is 12.5 lbs.

That means when you're shoveling the driveway, take breaks and ask for help if you need it. 

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How much does a shovel of snow weigh?

We're going to get between 5 and 8 inches of snow with this system. (If you want to get straight to the answer, skip the next paragraph) 

If this were regular snow - not the wet stuff - a square foot of that snow weighs 3.8 pounds. One shovel will clear roughly one-and-a-half square feet. 

That means each shovel full is roughly 6 pounds.

That may not seem like a big weight, until you consider the size of your driveway. If your 20 by 12 driveway needs cleared by hand, that's a ton of snow. Literally - it's more than, 2,000 pounds.

And remember, that's regular snow. The wet stuff will be even higher.

Can wet snow harm your roof?

Originally, we expected to get near 12 inches of snow so the following math is based on what would have happened IF we had received a foot of snow.

If we had gotten 12 inches of fluffy snow, that would have been equal to a truck - or 6,240 pounds - sitting on a 2,000 square foot roof. Normal snow is one truck and one sedan - or 9,360 pounds.

But the wet stuff (18,720 lbs) is roughly three trucks on top of your roof!

The good news? Your house should be fine. Most homes have a roof that can hold up to four feet of snow - which has never happened. The most snow in a single event was in 1886 when we received two feet of snow.