After a weekend home to visit some family in Northeast Ohio I noticed a very interesting thing on the side of route 30 on my drive home Monday morning back to Lima. There were what appeared to be little snowballs in groups all along the highway, some of them looking like doughnuts, some of then more like your typical snowball you roll to build a snowman.
What I didn’t realize at the time was that what I was looking at was actually a pretty rare occurence! Ideal weather conditions in much of the midwest last night led to the formation of “Snow Rollers”.
This interesting weather phenomena happened because of a unique order of weather conditions that happened on Sunday.
1) Snow from earlier in the weekend had formed a layer of glaze or very thin ice on top of it.
2) As temperatures warmed up into the evening snow moved into the region. Because of the warmer temperatures the snow was a wetter or more moisture laden snow. The layer of thin ice that had already formed on the previous snow allowed for a non sticky surface for the newer, wetter snow.
3) As the new snow fell onto the thin ice the winds picked up into the 30 to 40 mph range. The winds were just strong enough to peel the new coat of wetter snow like carpet and roll it along to form Snow Rollers. Had the wind been too strong, it would have simply destroyed the fragile Snow Rollers.