A phenomenon once thought to exist only rarely in the prairies of North America has now hit Britain in a big way. The so-called “Snow Rollers,” or self rolling snowballs were first spotted by a couple going for a walk through a UK field after the massive snowstorm that hit the area. Essentially these massive snowballs, some measuring a little over four feet in height, made themselves.
As Ron and Aileen Trevett walked across the frozen tundra that had once been their home, they passed by what appeared to be a collection of massive hay bales dotting the countryside. As they theorized on what it could be, they realized hay bales seemed illogical and surmised that a group of teenagers had likely traveled to the location and rolled massive ice balls up either as a prank or to use later in a snow giant of some sort. Then as they approached one of the snow bales, they realized there was a distinct lack of tracks leading up to or anywhere around the hundreds of snow rolls. Upon closer inspection they realized that these were no more than massive rolls of ice that had blown around the field collecting more and more ice as they went. Such a phenomenon is not unheard of, but it is unheard of in the UK where a lack of heavy snow fall distinctly define the winters. This year, however, has seen more snowfall worldwide than it has in the past 25 years. Weather conditions are so extreme, in fact, that some scientists are speculating we may be entering another mini ice age.
Mr. Trevett was astonished to say the least. He described the experience to local media as an event he was very thankful for. Trevett is 55 and says he is most pleased to have the opportunity to stumble across such a rare phenomenon in such an unusual location. Trevett took pictures so he could share the experience with others, a fact we most definitely thank him for.
The process that actually creates these massive bales of snow is quite simple. As the top layer of snow hardens just before reaching the melting point in direct sunlight, a strong gust of wind knocks the top layer over onto the lighter fluffy snow beneath. As that snow likewise hardens in the sun it is knocked over with the next gust of wind until it had formed a thin ball. As gusts of wind begin hitting the now larger sail of snow created by the elevated roll, it finds more surface area to blow about the bale. As a result, it keeps rolling until eventually it reaches a proportion too heavy for the wind to blow it about anymore. Of course as this happens all at the same time due to the forces of wind and sun interacting with a thick layer of snow, it actually can create hundreds of such rolls in a very short period of time. The phenomenon is known as different things in different places, ranging from “snow donuts” to “snow rollers.”