Rare weather event snow rollers formed Friday night across the north
Sat, 28 Dec 2013 18:14:49 GMT —
Some Northern Michigan residents were witness to a rare meteorological phenomena Friday Night. After sunset, many people starting seeing snowballs magically appearing in their yard being pushed along by with wind. What they were witnessing is something called "snow rollers" and it requires a near perfect set of circumstances for them to form.
7&4 Storm Team Meteorologist Christina Burkhart starting receiving calls and emails Friday night from people who were witnessing dozens if not hundreds of snow rollers forming in their yards and fields.
To get snow rollers, three main things are needed. To start, you have to have a small layer of ice that has developed on the snowpack. With temperatures Friday warming close to freezing, there was a bit of melting which then refroze Friday evening providing that small layer of ice. Secondly, there must be some wet/loose snow on top of the ice layer which has a temperature close to the melting temperature of the ice. Lastly, and most critical is the wind. There must be a wind that is strong enough to push the loose snow allowing it clump together and grow into snowballs. However, if the wind is too strong, it will blow the snow rollers apart and they will not form. All three of these factors have to come together to get snow rollers which is why they are pretty rare.
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