Snow Rollers – Rare Weather Phenomenon

Snow Roller

Snow Roller

Rare Snow Rollers formed throughout portions of Ohio and Pennsylvania during a particularly windy winter storm on January 27, 2014.  Now I know that we normally post articles that are related to space and the universe, but this weather phenomenon is so rare I had to write about it!  What makes it even better is that it happened right here at the world headquarters of Outer Space Universe.  Snow Rollers very rarely form here. In fact, I’ve never seen them before!

Snow Rollers are a weather phenomenon in which snow balls are formed as wind blows along the ground.  Snow Rollers don’t look like your typical snow ball.  Rather, they are usually cylindrical or tube shaped.  The width of the tube varies depending on local conditions.  The overall size depends on local conditions as well.  Once the Snow Roller gets to a certain size, the wind can no longer roll it and it stops growing.  The Snow Roller in the image above was approximately 12 inches or 30 centimeters wide and about 16 inches or 41 centimeters tall.

Field Full of Snow Rollers

A Field Full of Snow Rollers

Conditions have to be exactly right for this rare phenomenon to take place.  First, there needs to be sufficient wind blowing along the ground – usually 20 – 25 mph. Next, there needs to be a layer of ice on the ground with wet, loose snow on top, with the temperature near freezing.  The wind needs to be strong enough to get the snow rolling, but not too strong that it blows the roll apart.

If you live where it snows, keep a lookout next time you have a windy snow storm. You just might spot a Snow Roller!

Image Credit:  Outer Space Universe – Copyright 2014

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