The weather was weird yesterday but it made something beautiful.
In Pennsylvania and Ohio people looked outdoors to find thousands of large snowballs dotting hillsides and open fields. The snow rollers resembled hay bales, jellyrolls or the unstacked segments of snowmen and were so unusual that they became online sensations in social media. They were made by the wind.
I didn't know they'd happened until Marianne Atkinson sent me photos from her backyard in Clearfield County, PA. I'd seen the wind make little snowballs in the Laurel Highlands so I thought I knew what she was talking about. But no, these are special. They're a foot across!
Snow rollers are pretty rare but yesterday morning produced the perfect weather mix...
- With an icy layer on top of snow or the ground that new snow can't stick to...
- Wet, loose snow fell on the icy layer.
- The temperature was near the melting point and...
- The wind blew at just the right speed to start the balls rolling without destroying them.
- The rollers stopped when they became too heavy for the wind to move. Even so they're often hollow and too fragile to pick up.
Thankfully the wind wasn't strong enough to stack them into snowmen!
(photos by Marianne Atkinson)