A collection of mysterious snowballs was gathered in Sweden after bird watchers passing by noticed a massive cache of them. The balls of ice, though varying in size are approximately the size of a basketball on average, and were made somehow in the sub-freezing temperatures then deposited on the shore in clutches almost like groups of eggs. Experts are still scratching their heads trying to figure out how these mysterious snowballs could have been created.
Magnus Bladh, of Ottenby bird station is no stranger to the outdoors or the myriad natural phenomena that can be observed as one takes a stroll down the coasts looking for rare birds along the southern Cape of Oland. But what met his eyes as he rounded the bend on the eighteenth of December. In a report he made and sent to the SMHI (Swedish Meteorological Agency) he said, “Temperatures were below freezing and there was a light wind. It was very cold. In the seaweed we noticed at least 200 large balls of ice. They varied in size, but some were quite large, even larger than a football.”
If the ice balls had simply fallen from the sky as precipitation, they surely would have shattered upon impact. Also, why only in one very condensed area? Hail survives its impact onto the ground because it’s densely packed ice all the way through. These ice balls that were discovered, when opened up, revealed an external shell of ice, densely packed snow all the way to a packed ice core. And the objects were broken easily. It seems precipitation is not the answer to this mystery, but maybe those who made the discovery can shed some light on the mystery.
He writes in his report that perhaps the most mysterious aspect of his discovery is that the ice balls were on the western side of the seaweed bed when winds, moving from east to west shouldn’t have carried them in so far. Somehow the ice balls had been left by natural forces, but in a way that Magnus and his colleagues found very curious.
The team does have one theory. If light fluffy snow was blown into water that was beginning to freeze, but was still to turbulent to be solidified, it could turn the snowflakes around in the waters as they floated aloft held buoyant by their decreased density in a frozen state. As the water levels rose, so too did the rolling balls of ice, collecting in areas where they would most likely be formed until the water levels receded again (which they did on December 17th and 18th) leaving the floating ice balls behind as the water goes down.
It’s an interesting theory, but does it truly explain everything? If the process is so simple, why are ice balls not spotted more in frigid areas such as Northern Canada, Greenland, and the coastal areas of Sweden where they were spotted this time? It seems the explanation is temporarily satisfactory, but there’s still much left to be explained if this phenomenon is to find itself a scientifically documented phenomenon. Alternately, it could be a strange behavior of an undiscovered animal, packing ice in a way that creates an almost perfect sphere. Hopefully this mystery will be solved more conclusively before it becomes an unexplainable cold case.