(Sari Boudreau/Courier) According to the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) website, a snow roller is a rare meteorological phenomenon.
Mother nature has a ball
ST. STEPHEN – Norma Caldwell said in her entire life, she has never seen anything like the sight she awoke to on Wednesday morning. When she looked out her kitchen window, Caldwell said her entire yard, and the yards of many of her neighbours, were covered with snowballs ranging in size from a couple of centimetres to nearly 30 centimetres in diameter.
"When I went over to my sink to get some breakfast, I saw my back field,
and I couldn't believe it. You could see the tracks from where they rolled
on the lawn," said Caldwell.
Large snowballs are created when pieces of snow are blown along the ground, and they pick up more snow as they roll.
The difference between a man-made snowball and a snow roller is that snow rollers are barrel-shaped and often hollow because the first layers formed are weaker and thinner than the outer layers.
They can be as large as 30 centimetres in diameter, and are so soft and fluffy that they can disintegrate with just a breath of air or by being touched.
Caldwell said she had seen a story about these natural creations on a weather report by meteorologist Cindy Day. She thought they were interesting, but never thought she'd see a sight like them herself until this week.
"It was on TV about a month ago. It's when the temperature's right, and the wind and the snow, so they explained on the weather report that night. It is unusual," said Caldwell.
Certain weather conditions must be met before snow rollers can form. There must be a layer of ice on the ground that snow can not adhere to; the ice has to be covered with wet, loose snow that has a temperature near the point of melting for ice; the wind must be powerful enough to cause the snow rollers to move the snow, but not too strong; and the ground must be sloped so the snow balls can roll. Snow rollers are usually found in hilly areas.
Amy Moores and Linda DeMerchant, neighbours of Caldwell's, stopped in to marvel at the sight of the hundreds of show rollers. Demerchant said she and Moores were driving when they noticed snowballs in many yards.
Both women were amazed at the sight of the snow rollers, and Demerchant said she found them to be odd until she found out what they are.
"It kind of freaked me out at first," said Demerchant.
Reports of fields full of Mother Nature's snowballs came in from around Charlotte County, including Mayfield, Tower Hill and Rollingdam.
Ray Parks, of Mayfield, said he was amazed at the sight of the snowballs
in a field. He said it looked like there were "millions" of them.