What Is the Lee Side of a Snow Fence? Explained

When a snow fence is installed, it isn’t meant to completely prevent snow drifts, but rather to strategically gather and control the accumulation of snow. This intentional placement of snowdrifts is crucial in certain areas where managing snow buildup is necessary for safety, access, or other reasons.

What Is the Science Behind Snow Fences?

What’s the science behind snow fences? In general, a snow fence works by disrupting the aerodynamics of the lowest level of the atmosphere. It breaks up the speed of the wind, which tends to carry around all of those dazzling, dainty dendrites. By doing this, it allows snowbanks to build upon the leeward side of the fence.

The leeward side of the fence is the side opposite to the direction from which the wind is blowing. When the wind encounters the fence, it’s forced to slow down and change direction, creating an area of low pressure on the windward side. This change in pressure causes the wind to rise over the top of the fence, carrying the snowflakes with it.

On the leeward side, where the wind has slowed down, the pressure is higher, causing the air to sink. As the air descends, it warms and dries, allowing for less moisture to be present and leading to the formation of larger, denser snowflakes. These larger snowflakes are more readily caught by the fence, further aiding in the accumulation of snow.

The precise mechanics of snow fencing can vary depending on factors such as the height, design, and spacing of the fence. Different types of snow fences, such as woven wire, plastic mesh, or wooden slats, may have different effects on the airflow and snow accumulation patterns.

By doing so, snow fences play an important role in controlling drifting snow, protecting roads and buildings, and even helping in water conservation by capturing and storing snowmelt.

How Snow Fences Can Be Used to Control Drifting Snow and Prevent Snow Buildup on Roads and Highways.

  • Introduction
  • Types of snow fences
  • How snow fences work
  • Benefits of using snow fences
  • Installation and maintenance
  • Impact on road safety
  • Conclusion

Placing a snow drift fence in the right location is crucial for it’s effectiveness. The fence should be installed upwind of the intended drift area, taking into consideration the prevailing wind direction.

Where Should a Snow Drift Fence Be Placed?

When it comes to placing a snow drift fence, proper installation and strategic positioning are key. The primary purpose of a snow fence is to act as a windbreak, redirecting and containing the blowing snow in a targeted area. By doing so, it helps minimize the formation of snowdrifts on roadways, railways, and other crucial zones.

This means understanding the prevailing wind direction and positioning the fence accordingly. By positioning the snow fence on the upwind side, it intercepts the flowing snow and forces it to deposit and accumulate in the desired location.

Therefore, it’s important to carefully study wind patterns and analyze the terrain before installing a snow drift fence.

Additionally, other factors like the height and design of the snow fence should also be taken into consideration. A taller fence can capture more blowing snow, but it may also require more maintenance and can potentially cause more complex snowdrift formations. The design of the fence, such as it’s porosity, can influence how much snow accumulates on the lee side.

How to Determine Prevailing Wind Direction for Placing a Snow Drift Fence

The prevailing wind direction can be determined by observing natural indicators such as the alignment of trees or the direction of nearby bodies of water. Additionally, weather records and climate maps of your specific location can provide valuable information. By installing a snow drift fence on the lee side, or the side opposite to the prevailing wind direction, you can effectively reduce snow accumulation and prevent drifts from forming in unwanted areas.


By strategically placing a snow fence, turbulent winds are generated, causing the majority of snowfall to accumulate on this side. This understanding is crucial in efficiently managing snow accumulation and ensuring the safety and accessibility of roads, driveways, and other areas during snowy conditions. By harnessing the power of wind and using a snow fence as a tool, individuals and communities can effectively control the distribution of snow and mitigate it’s impact.

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