Snow Rollers dot Ohio landscape - 13abc.com Toledo (OH) News, Weather and Sports

Snow Rollers dot Ohio landscape

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Snow rollers. Lake Erie ice balls.  Thundersnow.  They're all rare and they've all been seen around our region the past few weeks.  It's just another facet to our long, strange winter.

While certainly not common, snow rollers are prone to form in Ohio and Michigan because of several factors.  Just like baking a cake, you need the right ingredients added at just the right time.

A crusty layer of existing snow is the first step… no surprise here, we have plenty of that on the ground with more than three feet of snow this month alone.  That base is firm enough for the baby roller to get traction on. 

On top of that, we had an extremely fluffy layer of snow from early in the weekend.  Sticky, dense snow is also a necessity for snow rollers.  As temperatures warmed up ahead of the approaching cold front this past Sunday, we got a touch of melting in our southern counties.  The snow that then fell Sunday night was also very sticky and packable. 

Following this stacking, northwest winds gusting above 30 miles per hour helped pick up some of the snow.  In open fields, the winds weren't blocked by trees or homes.  That allowed some of these snow rollers to grow into heavy logs.  While some look like spheres, they often form into cylinders looking like big hay bales. 

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