Is there an English word for what Norwegians call "skaresnø" ('skare'-snow) - or just "skare"?

It's the hard crust/lid you get on top of snow, where the top layer has started to melt a bit before freezing again - often due to the sun shining on the snow all day or temperatures just above freezing. It's not ice - it's still snow - but it's been bound together when freezing.

If the crust is strong enough, you can ski - or even walk - across it without sinking into the snow underneath. Of course, there's always a danger that the "skare" isn't quite strong enough to bear you...

We also talk about "skareføre" - where "føre" is more about the condition of the surface we want to move across... here it's snow, but it's also used for road condition. "isføre" (icy conditions) implies you'll have to be careful when driving and walking... "klisterføre" ("sticky"-condition refers to a type ski wax used for snow above freezing - which is rather sticky itself)... and "skareføre" implies that the "skaresnow" is at least strong enough to ski across - if not also to walk across.

  • 5
    I don't think we have a particular word for it, although where I live we'd call it crusted or glazed snow.
    – Kit Z. Fox
    Dec 30, 2015 at 15:25
  • How is it not ice? Snow is already a form of ice, after all.
    – phoog
    Dec 30, 2015 at 16:17
  • Here in Minnesota we call it "crusty snow".
    – Hot Licks
    Dec 30, 2015 at 19:52

3 Answers 3


I googled around and found this site about different types of snowflake, snowfall, and snow formations. Under the "formations" section, they define crust as "a hard snow surface lying upon a softer layer, formed by sun, rain, or wind."

Given that I know of no widespread term for it, you might call it snowcrust in an attempt to parallel the Norwegian.


Locally (in the Pacific Northwest) we use "silver thaw" as exactly what you describe. Google defines silver thaw as “a glassy coating of ice formed on the ground or an exposed surface by freezing rain or the refreezing of thawed ice”; I find no source to document our use as universally accepted.

  • This may be more localized than you imagine. "Silver thaw" is used in the Pacific Northwest to mean a glassy coating of ice on surfaces. For example the book "Silver Thaw" by Catherine Anderson, which is set in "Mystic Creek, Oregon" and uses the term in context of an ice storm. I can't find any use of it to mean crusted snow in literature anywhere.
    – MetaEd
    Dec 30, 2015 at 23:32
  • That being said, it is true that if you have an icing event (a "silver thaw") and it so happens that there is already snow on the ground, you'll get something akin to crusted snow in addition to or as part of the overall icing event.
    – MetaEd
    Dec 30, 2015 at 23:36

"Crust" is really all you need to be understood. Something like wind slab-- a dry crust-- is far more rare in most people's experience than what you are describing.

In avalanche terminology, it's a melt-freeze crust. Even in the technical lexicon, it's just "crust."

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