Snow Rollers, or log shaped snowballs, formed Thursday in parts of south central Nebraska and north central Kansas including Jewell, Webster and Adams Counties. Snow rollers are an unusual meteorological phenomenon where large shaped snowballs form as wind blows the snow on the ground, causing the snow to form a ball and increase in size as it collects snow, similar to how snowmen are made. The snow rollers were seen on lawns, fields, school football fields, and other open area in Jewell, Webster and Adams Counties.

Snow rollers have a more log shaped appearance than the spherical shape of a snowman, and a snow roller may be hollow in the middle. Snow rollers can be as small as a golf ball, or as large as a 30 gallon drum, but they typically average 10 to 12 inches in diameter.

Snow rollers form under the following weather conditions:

  • The ground surface has an icy, crusty snow on which falling snow cannot stick.
  • About an inch or so of loose, wet snow must accumulate.
  • Gusty and strong winds are needed to scoop out chunks of snow.

Snowfall amounts generally in the 1 to 2 inch range fell across portions of south central Nebraska and north central Kansas overnight January 9th and in the morning on January 10th, 2008. Northwest winds averaged 15 to 25 mph and had gusts near 35 mph. These conditions were conducive to the development of the snow rollers.

If you have any photographs of the snow rollers you would like to share, please email them to the National Weather Service webmaster at w-gid.webmaster@noaa.gov. The appearance of the snow rollers may extend beyond Adams, Webster and Jewell Counties. If you know of any other locations of the snow rollers, feel free to email the webmaster at the National Weather Service in Hastings.


The National Weather Service in Hastings would like to thank those who sumbitted photos of this unusual phenomenon. A number of these photos follow:

These three photos were taken 4 miles west of Jewell, KS by Annette Saint.




Additional photos have been sent to us by Allen Smith.  He took these two photos on the southeast side of Mankato, Kansas.  The first picture was taken around 9 am and the Snow Roller measured 20 inches high and 24 inches wide.



This second photo was taken about 11 am and shows how these had melted some.  The Snow Roller in the foreground measured 13 inches high and 16 inches wide.



Snow Rollers were also seen in Adams county near Holstein. Betty Jacobitz of rural Adams county took these three pictures.





The next 2 photos were provided courtesy of Eric Burks of Jewell High School, depicting a multitude of Snow Rollers on the school’s football field.

The three photos below were captured by Jolene Albert five miles south of Cawker City, KS, in Mitchell County.

The following photo was taken by Margie Schoen at her residence in the southeast corner of Smith County, KS. The juice can in the photo is 7 inches tall for comparison.

 


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