When there’s a typhoon, the result is called a flood.

But when there’s a snowstorm, what do you call all the snow it left behind? Is there a particular word for that?

  • 18
    I call it Boston this year.
    – Robusto
    Commented Mar 10, 2015 at 1:55
  • 3
    (Living in Minnesota for the past 41 years, there is no (polite) term for "excessive snow". There may be a "drift" or "bank" where snow accumulates more heavily than in other places, but there's no special term for an unusual depth that hasn't drifted or otherwise been "amplified".)
    – Hot Licks
    Commented Mar 10, 2015 at 2:26
  • 3
    (And, BTW, a "blizzard" is a storm that features blowing snow, sufficient to obscure visibility. It's quite possible (in fact, common) to have a substantial accumulation without a "blizzard". And it's possible to have a "blizzard" with little or no additional accumulation.)
    – Hot Licks
    Commented Mar 10, 2015 at 2:30
  • 17
    In Canada, we still call it snow.
    – ermanen
    Commented Mar 10, 2015 at 2:35
  • 4
    ...Snowmageddon! Commented Mar 10, 2015 at 4:52

13 Answers 13


I wouldn't call an excessive amount of snow an accumulation. As Steven Littman pointed out in a comment

Actually, whether it's three inches or thirty-six, whether you call it thirty-six inches or three feet, anything that doesn't melt upon contact with the ground is an accumulation. Three inches can paralyze a southern city, while the Midwest goes on as if nothing happened with nine inches.

To describe a considerable quantity of snow on the ground, I would say

And Wikipedia suggests a one word solution

Assessing the formation and stability of snowpacks is important in the study and prediction of avalanches

An avalanche is a natural disaster with which I would associate an "excessive" snow fall.

  • 6
    Snowpack isn't technically excessive. Here in Colorado, the height of the snowpack for the various ski resorts commonly features in the evening news. It simply refers to the quantity of snow currently present on the slopes, and usually includes the accumulated snow for several snow storms. Commented Mar 10, 2015 at 15:49
  • yes, "snowpack" is totally unrelated, you should edit it out of the question.
    – Fattie
    Commented Mar 11, 2015 at 0:54

It is called an accumulation, which is usually followed by a measurement, such as "an accumulation of three inches."

  • 5
    You mean feet, not inches.
    – tchrist
    Commented Mar 10, 2015 at 2:14
  • 3
    Well, actually, I meant inches, but I suppose if you live in Boston... Commented Mar 10, 2015 at 2:16
  • 2
    Actually, whether it's three inches or thirty-six, whether you call it thirty-six inches or three feet, anything that doesn't melt upon contact with the ground is an accumulation. Three inches can paralyze a southern city, while the Midwest goes on as if nothing happened with nine inches. Also, the reason that there's no precise equivalent to a flood from a typhoon is that a typhoon is catastrophic, and snowstorms are mostly inconvenient and unpleasant to travel through. The biggest casualties of most snowstorms are the milk and bread aisles in the supermarket. Commented Mar 10, 2015 at 2:28
  • 1
    The Midwest has it easy. I don’t live there though; I live in Colorado at more than a mile in elevation, and I regularly get 8 to 12 feet a year. Last week we got a foot and a half one day, and we didn’t even bother to shut down the schools or close anything. Accumulations of under a foot really aren’t worth mentioning. People get hysterical about the silliest things.
    – tchrist
    Commented Mar 10, 2015 at 2:45
  • 1
    Hi tchrist .. I understand then that your first comment ("You mean feet, not inches") was actually just a general joke ("a few inches of snow are nothing!"), rather than you suggesting feet is the idomatic measurement unit. (What's the word for the "idiomatic unit"? ie "hands" for horse, "feet-inches" for humans etc.)
    – Fattie
    Commented Mar 10, 2015 at 2:56

You can consider snowcover. (although, it doesn't mean excessive snow)

It is the accumulated snow on the ground after a snowfall but it can be the result of a snowstorm as well. Additionally, there are terms like high/low snowcover and heavy/deep snowcover in meteorology. (also: snow cover)

It is also mentioned in a book about snowstorms. The below image and the excerpt are from the book Northeast Snowstorms: Volume 1 and Volume 2 (by Paul Kocin, Louis Uccellini):

enter image description here

True color image of snowcover following record Feb 2003 snowstorm taken by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) aboard NASA's Terra satellite (image courtesy of Jacques Descloitres, MODIS Land Rapid Response Team at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD).

There is also the term snow pile but it is usually used for the accumulated snow in certain areas.

And there is snow flood from melted snow.

In the end, it is just snow, eh?

Technically, snow equivalent of water damage (and flood) can be explained with snow-water equivalent measurement.

Snow Water Equivalent (SWE) is a measurement of the amount of water contained in snow pack. It can be considered as the depth of water that would theoretically result if the whole snow pack instantaneously melts. Snow Water Equivalent (SWE) is the product of snow depth and snow density. [disc.gsfc.nasa.gov]

Wikipedia explains the snow damage based on SWE as below:

When heavy, wet snow with a snow-water equivalent (SWE) ratio of between 6:1 and 12:1 (in extreme cases, as heavy as 4:1) and a weight in excess of 10 pounds per square foot (~40 kg/m2) piles onto trees or electricity lines – particularly if the trees have full leaves or are not adapted to snow – significant damage may occur on a scale usually associated with hurricanes.


Where I'm from, we will often refer to a large amount of snow that fell relatively quickly as a dump.

As in

We had a big dump of snow over the weekend.

I'm not sure how widespread that is, but it's descriptive enough that many people could probably figure it out, even if they have never heard the expression before. If you just say 'a dump,' people will probably think you're referring to something else, unless the context is clearly recently fallen snow.

  • 1
    This is the correct term in my experience (Montreal). It's familiar enough that stating "It really dumped last night" will usually get the correct message across even without the word "snow". Just make sure you the right pronoun.
    – DanielST
    Commented Mar 10, 2015 at 19:18

with SWR, when there is no single word for what you are asking about, it's traditional to provide a formal answer "there is no such word".

So in fact,

There is no such single word equivalent to "flood" for massive "snow buildup".

You just have to struggle with the phrase suggestions everyone has provided.

Hope it helps!

  • 1
    SWR? Please explain. Commented Mar 10, 2015 at 2:20
  • SWR .. Single Word Request !
    – Fattie
    Commented Mar 10, 2015 at 2:21
  • 1
    "snow buildup" is pretty good though...
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Mar 10, 2015 at 9:52
  • sure, "buildup". Yourpal has made a good point, the noun form of dumped, "a dump", is "sort of" an answer, too.
    – Fattie
    Commented Mar 11, 2015 at 0:56

What about-


On the open trails of a ski hill it is called


The low and high estimated range of total natural and snowmaking base depths on trails that are open. This is stated as a range in inches.

Additional terms such as corn, powder, granular, etc are used to describe the texture of the snow so that skiers can properly wax their skis for minimum friction.


Re "When there’s a typhoon, the result is called a flood.": Not necessarily, and not always. It's perfectly possible to have hurricanes/typhoons without flooding, if for instance there's good enough natural drainage to handle the rainfall. And of course it's likewise possible for floods to have other causes.

Really the only equivalent to 'flood' for snow would be an avalanche, and the equivalence is only for sudden flash-flooding. To the best of my knowledge, there's no single word for an excessive amount of snow, because having a lot of snow is seldom a problem in the way that a flood is a problem. Also, there's a subjective factor in the amount of snow that would be thought excessive, whereas flooding is fairly tightly defined. Most rivers have a defined flood level, and forecasts & reports will refer to that level. For snow, the closest thing (in the western US, at least) are mountain snowpack levels, which are typically reported as a percentage of the historic average. But hardly anyone in these areas would consider even 200% of average as excessive.


When there's a typhoon, the result is a flood.

Based on your initial comparison, I need to take into the account that the second result needs to be a potentially damaging and generally negative.

The closest word I can give you is "snowbound".


You won't find any direct equivalent, because the situations are fundamentally different:

In flooding (regardless of cause), the local water level rises to submerge areas of normally exposed land. The state change is absolute and dramatic, even if the water is shallow.

You might find words for heavy snowfall, but for a snowy region this is still only a difference in degree, and not a transformative event like flooding.

The closest analogue to flooding might be any amount of snowfall or snow cover in an area that normally receives none, but even that is a much less of a dramatic event than flooding. Given a local expectation of no snow, simply "snowfall" or "snow cover" should convey the situation just fine. I have seen people misapply the term "blizzard" to such events, though, even if the snowfall itself was utterly peaceful.


I wouldn't be surprised to see it called:

  • Snowmageddon
  • Snowpocalypse
  • Snownado
  • Snowden
  • 2
    They mean heavy snowstorm rather than the excessive amount of snow left behind.
    – ermanen
    Commented Mar 10, 2015 at 16:10

In New Zealand we use the term heavy snow for an accumulation from an event of more than 50cms (~1 1/2 feet) or where the rate of snow fall is more than 6cm (~2 inches) per hour.


I've been fond of kaniktshaq moritlkatsio atsuniartoq for a while now; alas, I cannot pronounce it.

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