Snow roller

Last updated
Snow roller in Rocky Mountain National Park Snow Roller in Rocky Mountain National Park.jpg
Snow roller in Rocky Mountain National Park

A snow roller is a rare meteorological phenomenon in which cylindrical snowballs are formed naturally as chunks of snow roll down hill or are blown along the ground by wind, picking up further snow along the way, in much the same way that the large snowballs used in snowmen are made. They can be as small as a tennis ball, but they can also be bigger than a car. [1] Most snow rollers are a few inches or centimeters wide. [2]


Alternative names for snow rollers include: snow bales, [3] snow donuts, snownuts and wind snowballs. [2] Unlike snowballs made by people, snow rollers are typically cylindrical in shape, and are often hollow since the inner layers, [2] which are the first layers to form, are weak and thin compared to the outer layers. The inner sections can easily be blown away, leaving what looks like a doughnut or Swiss roll.

Several conditions are needed for snow rollers to form:

Because of this last condition, snow rollers are more common in hilly areas. [1] However, the precise nature of the conditions required makes them a very rare phenomenon. [4] [5] [3]

Snow roller with a gear-like shape from Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado. Snow Roller.jpg
Snow roller with a gear-like shape from Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado.

See also

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Evaporation</span> Type of vaporization of a liquid that occurs from its surface; surface phenomenon

Evaporation is a type of vaporization that occurs on the surface of a liquid as it changes into the gas phase. High concentration of the evaporating substance in the surrounding gas significantly slows down evaporation, such as when humidity affects rate of evaporation of water. When the molecules of the liquid collide, they transfer energy to each other based on how they collide. When a molecule near the surface absorbs enough energy to overcome the vapor pressure, it will escape and enter the surrounding air as a gas. When evaporation occurs, the energy removed from the vaporized liquid will reduce the temperature of the liquid, resulting in evaporative cooling.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Frost</span> Coating or deposit of ice

Frost is a thin layer of ice on a solid surface, which forms from water vapor in an above-freezing atmosphere coming in contact with a solid surface whose temperature is below freezing, and resulting in a phase change from water vapor to ice as the water vapor reaches the freezing point. In temperate climates, it most commonly appears on surfaces near the ground as fragile white crystals; in cold climates, it occurs in a greater variety of forms. The propagation of crystal formation occurs by the process of nucleation.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Lake-effect snow</span> Weather phenomenon

Lake-effect snow is produced during cooler atmospheric conditions when a cold air mass moves across long expanses of warmer lake water. The lower layer of air, heated by the lake water, picks up water vapor from the lake and rises through colder air. The vapor then freezes and is deposited on the leeward (downwind) shores.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Snowball</span> Spherical object made from compacted snow

A snowball is a spherical object made from snow, usually created by scooping snow with the hands, and pressing the snow together to compact it into a ball. Snowballs are often used in games such as snowball fights.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Avalanche</span> Large amount of snow sliding down a steep slope on the mountain

An avalanche is a rapid flow of snow down a slope, such as a hill or mountain.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Freezing rain</span> Rain maintained at temperatures below freezing

Freezing rain is rain maintained at temperatures below freezing by the ambient air mass that causes freezing on contact with surfaces. Unlike a mixture of rain and snow or ice pellets, freezing rain is made entirely of liquid droplets. The raindrops become supercooled while passing through a sub-freezing layer of air hundreds of meters above the ground, and then freeze upon impact with any surface they encounter, including the ground, trees, electrical wires, aircraft, and automobiles. The resulting ice, called glaze ice, can accumulate to a thickness of several centimeters and cover all exposed surfaces. The METAR code for freezing rain is FZRA.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Winter storm</span> Low-temperature extreme weather events of high winds and freezing preciptation forms

A winter storm is an event in which wind coincides with varieties of precipitation that only occur at freezing temperatures, such as snow, mixed snow and rain, or freezing rain. In temperate continental climates, these storms are not necessarily restricted to the winter season, but may occur in the late autumn and early spring as well. A snowstorm with strong winds and other conditions meeting certain criteria is called a blizzard.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Black ice</span> Thin coating of glazed ice on a surface

Black ice, sometimes called clear ice, is a thin coating of glaze ice on a surface, especially on streets. The ice itself is not black, but visually transparent, allowing the often black road below to be seen through it. The typically low levels of noticeable ice pellets, snow, or sleet surrounding black ice means that areas of the ice are often practically invisible to drivers or people stepping on it. There is, thus, a risk of slippage and subsequent accident due to the unexpected loss of traction.

In a reciprocating engine, the cylinder is the space in which a piston travels.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Thundersnow</span> Thunderstorm during which there is snowfall

Thundersnow, also known as a winter thunderstorm or a thundersnowstorm, is a kind of thunderstorm with snow falling as the primary precipitation instead of rain. It is considered a rare and unusual phenomenon. It typically falls in regions of strong upward motion within the cold sector of an extratropical cyclone. Thermodynamically, it is not different from any other type of thunderstorm, but the top of the cumulonimbus cloud is usually quite low. In addition to snow, graupel or hail may fall as well. And the heavy snowfall tends to muffle the sound of the thunder so that it sounds more like a low rumble than the loud, sharp bang that you hear during regular thunderstorms.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Morning Glory cloud</span> Meteorological phenomenon

The Morning Glory cloud is a rare meteorological phenomenon consisting of a low-level atmospheric solitary wave and associated cloud, occasionally observed in different locations around the world. The wave often occurs as an amplitude-ordered series of waves forming bands of roll clouds.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Vastitas Borealis</span> Lowland region in the northern hemisphere of Mars

Vastitas Borealis is the largest lowland region of Mars. It is in the northerly latitudes of the planet and encircles the northern polar region. Vastitas Borealis is often simply referred to as the northern plains, northern lowlands or the North polar erg of Mars. The plains lie 4–5 km below the mean radius of the planet, and is centered at 87.73°N 32.53°E. A small part of Vastitas Borealis lies in the Ismenius Lacus quadrangle.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Icing conditions</span> Atmospheric conditions that can lead to the formation of ice on aircraft surfaces

In aviation, icing conditions are atmospheric conditions that can lead to the formation of water ice on an aircraft. Ice accretion and accumulation can affect the external surfaces of an aircraft – in which case it is referred to as airframe icing – or the engine, resulting in carburetor icing, air inlet icing or more generically engine icing. These phenomena may possibly but do not necessarily occur together. Both airframe and engine icing have resulted in numerous fatal accidents in aviation history.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Doughnut (driving)</span> Maneuver performed while driving a vehicle

A doughnut or donut is a maneuver performed while driving a vehicle. Performing this maneuver entails rotating the rear or front of the vehicle around the opposite set of wheels in a continuous motion, creating (ideally) a circular skid-mark pattern of rubber on a carriageway and possibly even causing the tires to emit smoke from friction.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Architectural glass</span>

Architectural glass is glass that is used as a building material. It is most typically used as transparent glazing material in the building envelope, including windows in the external walls. Glass is also used for internal partitions and as an architectural feature. When used in buildings, glass is often of a safety type, which include reinforced, toughened and laminated glasses.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Caneworking</span> Glassblowing technique

In glassblowing, cane refers to rods of glass with color; these rods can be simple, containing a single color, or they can be complex and contain strands of one or several colors in pattern. Caneworking refers to the process of making cane, and also to the use of pieces of cane, lengthwise, in the blowing process to add intricate, often spiral, patterns and stripes to vessels or other blown glass objects. Cane is also used to make murrine, thin discs cut from the cane in cross-section that are also added to blown or hot-worked objects. A particular form of murrine glasswork is millefiori, in which many murrine with a flower-like or star-shaped cross-section are included in a blown glass piece.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Palsa</span> A low, often oval, frost heave occurring in polar and subpolar climates

Palsas are peat mounds with a permanently frozen peat and mineral soil core. They are a typical phenomenon in the polar and subpolar zone of discontinuous permafrost. One of their characteristics is having steep slopes that rises above the mire surface. This leads to the accumulation of large amounts of snow around them. The summits of the palsas are free of snow even in winter, because the wind carries the snow and deposits on the slopes and elsewhere on the flat mire surface. Palsas can be up to 150 m in diameter and can reach a height of 12 m.

A die in polymer processing is a metal restrictor or channel capable of providing a constant cross sectional profile to a stream of liquid polymer. This allows for continuous processing of shapes such as sheets, films, pipes, rods, and other more complex profiles. This is a continuous process, allowing for constant production, as opposed to a sequential (non-constant) process such as injection molding.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Glossary of meteorology</span> List of definitions of terms and concepts commonly used in meteorology

This glossary of meteorology is a list of terms and concepts relevant to meteorology and atmospheric science, their sub-disciplines, and related fields.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Ice eggs</span>

Ice eggs, or ice balls, are a rare phenomenon caused by a process in which small pieces of sea ice in open water are rolled over by wind and currents in freezing conditions and grow into spheroid pieces of ice. They may collect into heaps of balls or 'eggs' on beaches.


  1. 1 2 "Snow Donut or Snow Roller a rare interesting natural phenomenon - Wireobot". Wireobot. 2016-10-27. Archived from the original on 2016-10-28. Retrieved 2016-10-27.
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Zachos, Elaina (13 February 2018). "Why Snow Is Forming Donut-shape Spirals in Canada". National Geographic . Retrieved April 20, 2018.
  3. 1 2 "Rare snow rollers spotted in field near Marlborough". BBC News. 3 February 2019. Retrieved 3 February 2019.
  4. 1 2 "Snow Doughnuts Are the Real Thing". National Public Radio . Retrieved April 20, 2018.
  5. Holzau, Tino Bellmann @ BCS Computersysteme Holzhau. "Einzigartiges Naturschauspiel zwischen den Ortsteilen Clausnitz und Bienenmühle | Holzhau Rechenberg-Bienenmühle Clausnitz | 03.02.2019". (in German). Retrieved 2019-02-03.