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Snow rollers, a rare weather phenomenon, turn up in Brigham City

USU employees in Brigham City were delighted to find snow rollers on a large campus lawn on Tuesday morning. Photo credit: Tiffany Mansfield

Snow rollers — natural snowballs pushed by the wind — covered the big lawn at the Utah State University campus in Brigham City Tuesday morning.

Staffers Della Burwell and Tiffany Mansfield were so amazed and delighted that they posted a video on Facebook showing the rollers all around their building. A quick Google search told them it could be a once-in-a-lifetime phenomenon.

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Meteorologist Brock Burghardt with the National Weather Service doesn’t think it’s quite that rare, though he says it would be unusual to see it more than once in any given valley location.

Snow rollers caused by rare combination

“Behind a strong cold front, we had some snow that had fallen,” Burghardt explained, “and also, the snow had fallen on rather warm ground, if you think about how warm it had been the four to five days prior to the cold front last night.”

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Some of the rollers were six inches in diameter or even larger. At least one showed a hole through the center — until it fell apart in a USU staffer’s hands.

Burghardt says snow rollers are more common in mountain areas, where snow falling off tree branches can start rolling downhill.


USU Snow roller

Photo of snow roller, photo credit: Tiffany Mansfield