Anyone heard of the “Snowroller” phenomenon?

Posted By: smackdown  Posted On: Oct 2nd, 2010  Filed Under: Weather

A few years back we had a rare occurance called Snow Rollers. 

People in central Illinois observed a strange phenomenon February 11 and 12, 2003.  Log-shaped “snowballs” showed up on lawns, fields, and other open areas.  This is a phenomenon referred to as “snow rollers”.  These are formed under specific weather conditions:

  • The ground surface must have an icy, crusty snow, on which falling snow cannot stick.

  • About an inch or so of loose, wet snow must accumulate.

  • Gusty and strong winds are needed to scoop out chunks of snow.

Snowfall of 1 to 4 inches occurred across central Illinois the morning of February 11.  That evening, as a strong cold front pushed through the area, wind gusts of 40 to 60 mph were noted in many areas.

Once the initial “seed” of the roller is started, it begins to roll.  It collects additional snow from the ground as it rolls along, leaving trails behind it.  The appearance is similar to building snowmen, except the snowball is more log-shaped rather than spherical, and many times they are hollow.  They can be as small as a golf ball, or as large as a 30 gallon drum, but typically they are about 10 to 12 inches in diameter. (NOAA)


Heres a link if you would like to see them for your self:…..roller.php 

  1. Flake Fan says:

    The wind does that? Wow! That's really cool!

  2. romanian says:

    Flake Fan said:The wind does that? Wow! That's really cool!

    Romanian: I think this years La nina will act almost as an El nino, beacuse -NAO, -AO, -EPA, -PDO -PNA will be 66% of the main drivers this winterand will overcome La nina no matter how strong it may get ( La nina=33% of winter drivers, that driver the winter weather).

    God bless you!

  3. weather411 says:

    This is really interesting. I like posts like these. Looks like mother nature was having fun ;)

  4. PlowmanOhio81 says:

    Yeah, that is very interesting and would be awesome to see!!! I'm gonna look for some pics of that… but it does seem likely after it's explained.

    Now, if you can get Romanian to quit posting dumb stuff and things people have already said, in forums where they don't belong. All will be great!!! :-D LOL

  5. smackdown says:

    Yeah it was weird to go out and see them… we were like “whats that?” They were all over. I only wish I could have seen them form. It seems like they did pretty quick. Leave it to the God above to show us miracles daily on all levels.

  6. TheMaineMan says:

    That sounds awesome! I've never seen that before, but it sounds really cool.

    Has anyone ever seen a snow devil?

  7. Blizzardlord says:

    TheMaineMan said:

    That sounds awesome! I've never seen that before, but it sounds really cool.

    Has anyone ever seen a snow devil?

    heck ya, it was awesome, rite in my neighborhood, back in 2007 i think, durin our blizzard i saw one

  8. PlowmanOhio81 says:

    Maineman… I've seen small “snow devils” when I'm out plowing the highways, but the trunks of the ones I have seen aren't more than 60' or so high… and no more than 20' wide at the base (I say 20' because when they cross the roads, they are about the width of the road). Usually stirred up in the northern part of my county where it's flat and the winds seem to blow all winter, even when there is wind nowhere else. LOL We get quite a bit of lake effect here… so most of the snow is the typical dry snow.

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