Rare weather event produces spontaneous snowballs
Rare weather event produces spontaneous snowballs This Jan. 30, 2016 photo provided by The Nature Conservancy shows a rare weather event that caused spontaneous snowballs at The Nature Conservancy’s Silver Creek Preserve and surrounding fields near the tiny town of Picabo, Idaho. (Sunny Healey/The Nature Conservancy via AP)
Rare weather event produces spontaneous snowballs
Lexile: 890L
Lexile

Assign to Google Classroom

Thousands of snowballs rolled in a flat central Idaho field look like the work of hundreds of determined kids, except there are no human tracks.
 
A rare weather event caused the spontaneous snowballs at the Nature Conservancy's Silver Creek Preserve and surrounding fields. They are near the tiny town of Picabo.
 
Preserve manager Sunny Healey spotted the cylindrical shapes up to 18 inches high on Jan. 30 following an overnight windstorm. They created long lines in the snow as they moved.
 
"You could see the tracks that they made. And I thought that was really curious," Healey said. "I had to stop a couple times. Then, along Highway 20, there were thousands of them."
 
So-called snow rollers are so rare and fleeting that the precise weather conditions needed to form them are not defined, said Jay Breidenbach.  He is a meteorologist with the National Weather Service. Snow rollers up to 18 inches are especially rare.
 
"Those are some pretty big rollers," Breidenbach said. "I've seen some small rollers. But never that big."
 
In general, it takes a curious combination of a couple of inches of snow with the right water density and temperatures near freezing, followed by strong winds, he said.
 
"It can't be real dry snow or it would blow into drifts," Breidenbach said.
 
Rollers require some type of firmer base, such as a frozen layer of earlier snow, for the new powder to start rolling on. Plus, the wind must be strong and steady. But not with powerful gusts that could damage the formations.
 
"It would probably blow them apart because they are fragile," Breidenbach said.
 
It snowed on Jan. 29, with the snow becoming wetter toward evening, Healey said. She lives at the preserve. She said the winds woke her up.
 
In her five years working at the preserve, she had never seen such an event. But a local rancher in his 70s told her he's spotted them twice.
 
"We know basically how they form and why they form, but we don't know the exact details," Breidenbach said. "It would be interesting to go there with some weather instruments to watch them form."

Source URL: https://www.tweentribune.com/article/tween56/rare-weather-event-produces-spontaneous-snowballs/

Filed Under:  
Assigned 252 times
CRITICAL THINKING QUESTION
How did wind create the snowballs?
Write your answers in the comments section below


COMMENTS (88)
  • jacks-6-bar
    2/25/2016 - 09:18 p.m.

    Wind created the "snowballs" by accumulating snow and then making it roll. The article states: " In general, it takes a curious combination of a couple of inches of snow with the right water density and temperatures near freezing, followed by strong winds." Obviously, those inches of highly specified snow are compiled together with significantly forceful winds, as there is no human force involved with the process. Since one only needs snow and wind to forge the snow-rollers, the only force available to organize the ice into a ball-shaped object is the wind, condensing it together into a spherical figure. The wind would have to blow the snow all into one shape: the shape of a snow-roller, as snow and wind are but only the two major components that are involved.
    The wind also created the "snowballs" by, of course, making them roll. The article states: "Rollers require some type of firmer base, such as a frozen layer of earlier snow, for the new powder to start rolling on." Though there must be originally accumulated snow by the wind, the wind must also roll ahead. If the snow is strong enough with the right conditions, the wind should blow it along decently smoothly. As it rolls, the snow-roller will accumulate even more snow to its cylindrical figure. Obviously, if it were to be considered a snow-roller, it would have needed to have rolled at a certain point. To be a significant size, it would need the wind to low it along, adding more snow to its mass all the while.
    The article was quite surprising; I had no idea that but only nature could create snowball-like shapes out of but a field of snow (assuming it's windy there). It was also comical, envisioning those "snowballs" out in the middle of a blanket of snow. One might expect that kids were to blame, snowballs being a stereotypical thing for them to make, but, of course, there were no tracks.

  • william1108-yyca
    2/25/2016 - 09:32 p.m.

    I never knew that a wind storm with snow could form a show ball. I also never knew that a storm could be very strong. Also I have never knew that it could actually happen. I have never heard of it before. But now I heard it I now know about it. But also since I read it I still think that it is impossible for that to happen. Maybe one day I will read more and new articles about it. Not the same ones.

    CRITICAL THINKING QUESTION: How did the wind create snow balls?

    ANSWER: It creates it by requiring some type of firmer base, such as a frozen layer of earlier snow, for the new powder to start rolling on. Plus, the wind must be strong and steady.

  • maxwellt-2-bar
    2/25/2016 - 09:49 p.m.

    When the snow forms and strong winds occur, the snow rollers are formed. "In general, it takes a curious combination of a couple of inches of snow with the right water density and temperatures near freezing, followed by strong winds". This article interested me because I have heard of these things before.

  • Eric0221-YYCA
    2/25/2016 - 11:06 p.m.

    The rare snow storm might have been able to make scientists curious about the snowballs rolling on a deep snow pile which snowballs had been formed and started rolling on the snow pile like a tumbleweed. The snow storm had been able to create snowballs that had been thought that there are children rolling their snowballs on the field but there are no evidence that the children are actually rolling their snowballs. The spontaneous snowballs had only been able to be rolling on the snowfield by the strength from the wind which are making the spontaneous snowballs to be rolling on the snowfield. People had been wondering about the snowballs that are rolling on the field by the wind which people would be putting up instruments to be investigating the process of the snowballs during the nighttime.
    Critical Thinking Question: How did wind create the snowballs?
    Answer: By pulling up some of the snows from the field and the snow that had been pulled up by the wind would be rolling that would be created into a snowball.

  • matthewp-6-bar
    2/25/2016 - 11:11 p.m.

    At the Nature Conservancy's Silver Creek Preserve wind was able to create snowballs. Wind was able to do this because of precise weather conditions and it rolled a few inches of snow into a ball. This is shown by,"Precise weather conditions are needed to form them." My opinion about this article is that I think it is very intriguing how these snowballs are form.

  • olgan-4-bar
    2/26/2016 - 12:17 a.m.

    Wind created the snowballs by pushing little loose bits of snow together into bigger balls. The article states " plus the wind must be strong and steady. But not with powerful gusts that could destroy the formation ". I have never heard of this and think it is interesting how so many crazy things such as a chain of snowballs formed with some exact weather conditions.

  • raymunda-4-bar
    2/26/2016 - 12:33 a.m.

    The wind created the snowballs by, the wind, in one direction, will blow the snow, from the ground, and the stable base will keep it from deforming. Also, the wind will keep on rolling the snowball, until it reaches a huge size. The winds can't be that strong because, " with powerful gusts that could damage the formations. 'It would probably blow them apart because they are fragile.'"(Paragraph 9-10, Keith Ridler) This shows that winds actually blow the snow so that it makes huge balls, but not to strong because they are fragile. It can't also be that weak, otherwise it wouldn't make any snowballs at all.
    This article is interesting because I have never seen that cool phenomenon before. That is really amazing on how it is so perfectly rounded and even. What shocked me the most is that the wind can make up to 18 inches high of snowballs! I can't even make it that high!

  • carolinev-2-bar
    2/26/2016 - 01:15 a.m.

    Wind created these snowballs with a very precise mixture of weather. For these magical snowballs to form there needed to be a combination of a few inches of snow, a precise water density and temperatures near freezing, carried by a storm of very strong winds. Also the snow has to be specific to it has to have the right moisture or else it would blow away into drifts if it was dry.In paragraph seven and eight the article states, "In general, it takes a curious combination of a couple of inches of snow with the right water density and temperatures near freezing, followed by strong winds, he said"

    I thought this article was very interesting but I wished that there was more information about the snowballs and everything to do with them.

  • taylorh-4-bar
    2/26/2016 - 01:31 a.m.

    The wind created the snowballs because "In general, it takes a curious combination of a couple of inches of snow with the right water density and temperatures near freezing, followed by strong winds, he said." I found this article interesting because I did not know that any type of weather or even this happening was possible. I did not know about this until I read this article, so it provided me with new information as well.

  • jamie-raf
    2/26/2016 - 09:13 a.m.

    the wind picked up with snow that was flat and it rolled

Take the Quiz Leave a comment
ADVERTISEMENT