Rollin’ along

By Colin Foster

January 29, 2014

By Colin Foster

MIAMI COUNTY — It takes the perfect combination of weather conditions to produce snow rollers, a phenomenon that hasn’t been seen around here in more than a decade.

The recent polar vortex, cold weather, snow and windy conditions provided courtesy of Mother Nature this winter has given way for many snow rollers to pop up in yards and fields throughout the Midwest region. Snow rollers, masses of snow rolled up by the wind into cylindrical snow balls, have been reported all over the Miami Valley.

“You need just the right conditions,” said Mike Kurz, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Wilmington. “One of the main things is when wet snow gets on top of a powdery or an icy surface … it’s a combination of the layer of wet snow and winds that are strong enough to where it rolls into nature’s snow ball. It builds almost like a snow man, growing and accumulating larger.”

The Troy Daily News was curious to find out where these rare snow rollers have been spotted in Miami County, so the staff took to social media to get answers. Many readers responded, speaking of snow rollers in various parts of the county.

Here’s where some snow rollers have been spotted in Miami County: between Covington and Bradford on State Route 36, Greenville Falls State Scenic River Area in Covington, Garbry Big Woods Reserve in Piqua, in fields off of State Route 55 towards Casstown, off of State Route 589 just north of Miami East High School, near Burr Oak New Hope Road in Fletcher, State Route 55 east between West Milton and Troy, the baseball fields at Hook Elementary School in Troy, small rollers were reported around Piqua High School, and at Poor Farmers RV Sales Service & Campground in Fletcher … but that’s just scratching the surface. There was another Facebook user who shared a picture of a ball with a snow roller wrapped around it on the Troy Christian Elementary playground from Tuesday.

Social media has played a big part in this rare phenomenon. Early in the week, people from states such as Ohio, Illinois, Indiana and Pennsylvania began posting photos of snow rollers on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites.

“It’s been about a decade since we’ve had widespread rollers … of course, social media wasn’t so widespread back then,” Kurz said. “This is quite a phenomenon; it’s been quite a while since we’ve had reports.”

And if the weather continues to be the way it has this winter, perhaps we could be seeing this rare happening once again.

Kurz said they are anticipating another winter storm surge to move through this weekend, and added there could be another round of cold temperatures coming through the region next week.

Colin Foster may be reached at 937-440-5208 or followed on Twitter @colinfosterbg or @Troydailynews