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Saturday, Apr. 30, 2016

Wind and cold formed snowrollers!

Thursday, February 13, 2003

A multitude of snowrollers were spotted in a field by Howard Hughes on Billville Rd. The Times received many reports of snowroller citings from residents throughout Clay County.

Snowrollers have come to Clay County.

The strange-shaped snow formations, that look similar to ocean waves, are often found during Indiana winters, according to the National Weather Service's Science Officer Jack Kwiatkowski.

"I wouldn't be surprised if they aren't seen somewhere in the state every winter," he told The Times Wednesday.

But what captured the attention of the NWS meteorologists at Indianapolis is that snowrollers were so widespread Wednesday morning. TV stations sent the Indianapolis weather office pictures from all over central Indiana.

The Indianapolis office serves the area from Kokomo to near Bedford as well as east to west across the state.

Clay County seems to have the distinction of being one of a few locations to have hollow snowrollers. The hollow variety was also reported at Bloomington, said Meteorologist Roger Kenyon

"Snowrollers are very rare," Kenyon said. "Tuesday night we had winds over 40 mph, which is rare in winter, and the temperatures got just warm enough, briefly, so snow could begin to melt."

He said the snow had to be just the right temperature, just as it must be the right temperature to form good snowballs.

Kansas State University meteorologists researched the phenomena after snowrollers in that state surprised residents on Dec. 18, 2000.

"Snowrollers appear in open fields under specific weather conditions, often present following the passage of a strong winter storm," reported Bryan Yeaton, Kansas State University, on the school's "Weather Notebook" Web page. "First, the ground surface must have an icy, crusty snow, on which new falling snow cannot stick.

"On top of this, about an inch of loose, wet snow, the sticky kind that makes good snowballs, must accumulate. The optimum air temperature appears to be around freezing, from 28 to 34 F.

"Finally, a gusty and strong wind, usually 25 mph or higher, is needed to build the snowroller.

"Snowroller formation begins when the wind scoops chunks of snow out of the snowfield, they roll, bounce and tumble, like snowy tumbleweeds, downwind. Additional snow then adheres to this seed, and the snowroller grows until it finally becomes too large for the wind to push, leaving behind a characteristic track linking the snowroller's origin to its final resting spot."

Snowrollers have also been seen in Alaska and Antarctica.

On the Web:

Kansas State University Weather Notebook:


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