What The Heck Are Snow Rollers?
What the heck are ‘snow rollers’? The name makes me think of some kind of Hostess dessert. "Try our delicious line of Hostess snacks, including the all new Snow Rollers!" Turns out, that is not what they are.
Reports started coming in with descriptions of snow inexplicably balling itself into donut-shaped spirals and rolling across the icy ground. This rare occurrence is a natural phenomenon rather than some kind of ice magic, winter crop circles or Hostess snack. They are called "snow rollers."
These 'snow rollers' are like New York's version of a tumbleweed. According to Syracuse.com these snow creations form when wind pushes wet snow over a layer of ice or crusted snow. It's caused by gravity, after a specific series of snow and temperature changes. Snow rollers look like a battalion of snow men or a field of snow-shrouded hay bales.
Check out this video, from Hillsdale, NY, about snow rollers:
These have been spotted around the Capital Region but with some rain and milder temps they may already have disappeared. These must be rare as I am 54 and have never spotted one. As a kid and again as a dad, I played outside in the snow for more years than I can remember. Snowmen, snowball fights, sledding, etc. All the same things you have done I am sure. Yet not 1 snow roller.
National Geographic says they are also known as "snow bales," "wind snowballs," or "snow donuts". In the rare cases where snow rollers happen, it's often not in busy cities. More frequently, this phenomenon is triggered in the countryside.
With all of the snow that we get in the Capital Region I would say we have a better shot than most to spot them when they come back around.
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