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
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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/

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CRITICAL THINKING QUESTION
How did wind create the snowballs?
Write your answers in the comments section below


COMMENTS (88)
  • maddieh-raf
    2/26/2016 - 09:14 a.m.

    When the snow was falling down the wind was blowing on the snow and made the snow form into snowballs on the ground.

  • angie1-raf
    2/26/2016 - 09:20 a.m.

    I would love to watch these snowballs form. Why cant this happen where I live. Every kids childhood dream is to have a big snowball fight with endless snowballs to throw.

  • priscilaa-sch
    2/26/2016 - 12:45 p.m.

    1)
    Who:Jay Breidenbach & Sunny Healey
    What:A rare weather event that produces snowballs
    When:January 30,2016
    Where:Nature Conservancy´s Silver Creek Preserve in Central Idaho
    Why:A weather event that caused these spontaneous snowballs
    How: Healey spotted cylindrical shapes up to 18 inched high following a overnight windstorm

    • sheilas-sch
      2/29/2016 - 12:58 p.m.

      3.) I agree with you because the weather event did cause snowballs.

  • priscilaa-sch
    2/26/2016 - 12:59 p.m.

    2)
    Main Idea: The main idea of this story is that a rare weather event produced spontaneous snowballs.
    Fact 1: ¨Along highway 20 there was thousands of them¨
    Fact 2: ¨ The so-called snow rollers are so rare and fleeting that the precise weather conditions to form them are not defined¨
    Fact 3:Jay is a meteorologist and he said that snow rollers up to 18 inches are especially rare. And the snow roller was up to 18 inches

  • Mallory-raf
    2/26/2016 - 01:35 p.m.

    by blowing snow together

  • ellasonr-wal
    2/26/2016 - 01:40 p.m.

    I think that what had happened with the snowballs is pretty neat and I think it could be big balls of hail that either built up as it was snowing.Or kids could have made them and then the snow could have covered up there tracks. But most likely the winter weather had a effect on the snow and the wind this year.

  • mckennaa-wal
    2/26/2016 - 01:42 p.m.

    This text was very interesting and I am very surprised that the wind might have made the snowballs. But a person could have made them but there foot prints could have been covered up by the snow.

    • priscilaa-sch
      2/29/2016 - 12:34 p.m.

      3)
      I agree with you about how interesting the article is, but i'm not so sure if kids made them because the meteorologist said that the severe weather caused to have the snow 18 inches deep, and having the snow 18 inches deep is really rare.

  • kaidenm-bru
    2/28/2016 - 09:08 p.m.

    The wind made the snowballs by blowing the snow and the snow sticking to the frozen lair of previous snow to make these amazing snowballs

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