Have you ever seen an interesting looking snow ball that semi-resembles the wheels on the Flintstones cars? This strange looking snowball actually has a name: snow rollers.

snow rollers is a rare meteorological phenomenon in which large snowballs are formed naturally as chunks of snow are blown along the ground by wind, picking up material along the way, in much the same way that the large snowballs used in snowmen are made. According to Wikipedia, they can be as small as a tennis ball, but they can also be bigger than a car. Most snow rollers are a few inches/centimeters wide.

The following conditions are needed for snow rollers to form:

  • There must be a relatively thin surface layer of wet, loose snow, with a temperature near the melting point of ice.
  • Under this thin layer of wet snow there must be a substrate to which the thin surface layer of wet snow will not stick, such as ice or powder snow.
  • The wind must be strong enough to move the snow rollers, but not strong enough to blow them apart.
  • Alternatively, gravity can move the snow rollers as when a snowball, such as those that will fall from a tree or cliff, lands on a steep hill and begins to roll down the hill.

Because of the last condition, snow rollers are more common in hilly or mountain areas (like Wyoming), however, the precise nature of the conditions required makes them a very rare phenomenon.