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Snow Donuts - A Natural Weather Phenomena

January 31st, 2008

Here’s a neat little natural weather phenomenon discovered along the lakefront in Ajax, Ontario last week:

Snow Donuts

Notice the snowballs, and no footprints around them! Some even are donut-shaped … only in Canada.

Snow Donuts

Snow Donuts

Essentially, I don’t know what the phenomenon is called, but have heard it explained before.

Conditions must be just perfect … specifically:

  • the temperature must be right around freezing, so that the snow is sticky and easily packable
  • there must be really strong gusts of wind and open areas
  • there must be imperfections in the snow for the wind to catch the snow and roll it
  • The result … these naturally rolled snowballs. When the wind is strong or fast enough, it will even create the donuts you see in the pictures.