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Snow jelly rolls? See what’s forming from a recent winter wallop

Tuesday, November 22nd 2022, 9:41 am - Nature's art: See how a recent snowy blast led to this rare winter phenomenon in southern Ontario

Snow jelly rolls? Social media was a buzz on Monday with people wondering what was forming in the open fields of southern Ontario.

The recent winter wallop that dropped over 100 cm of snow on some communities was "carte blanche" for a rare winter phenomenon -- snow rollers. These are cylindrical snowballs formed when freshly fallen snow is blown by the wind or rolls down an incline or hill.

MUST SEE: Early winter wallop buries parts of Ontario in 100+ cm of snow

Quite rare, snow rollers require a very specific set of conditions to all occur at the same time:

  • Adequate accumulation of recently fallen snow. Light enough to be able to roll, but moist enough to stick together as it rolls
  • A temperature just a few degrees above freezing, (3-5°C). That's just warm enough for a small amount of surface melting to allow the snow to stick and accrete as it rolls
  • A moderate to strong wind to roll the snow into a ball and then cylinder. An ideal wind speed is around 45-50 km/h.

image - 2022-11-22T075344.810

Snow rollers have been known to occur in open fields and locations with sun and shade where snow density can vary. The rollers can range from the size of a golf ball to a small bucket and a gentle incline can help create bigger balls as the snow rolls downhill.

Recent sightings of the snow rollers were found in the Peterborough, Ont. area where Monday's conditions were mainly sunny, with temperatures sitting between 2-5°C, southwest winds of 20-40 km/h and gusting to 40-60 km/h.

Thumbnail image courtesy: @contaucreek/Twitter

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