Wherever meteorologist Brett Soderholm goes, his friends point out weather oddities expecting an analysis. That was the case when Soderholm and his friends were at Lake Louise last week and his friend Justin Buss noticed a tunnel of swirling snow, asking him what it was.
A “snow-nado,” otherwise known as a snow devil, had formed at the top of a ski run and without hesitation, Buss took off in its direction and went right through it.
“There was a crowd of about five people behind me and I could hear them say, ‘That guy’s going for it! He’s crazy!’” recalled Soderholm.
Soderholm, who shot the video of the snow devil, said it’s quite rare to capture the phenomenon on camera and it was his first time seeing one.
Not wanting to miss the opportunity, Soderholm skied through it as well and described the experience as “painful.”
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“There were fierce winds swirling around me with little pieces of ice chucked up against my face,” he said noting that he didn’t sustain any injuries.
Soderholm said he couldn’t find any studies on snow devils in his research, but suggests they’re created when winds blowing in different directions combine to create a small vortex of spiralling air.
“It had just snowed the day before so the air picked up some of that powder, spiralled around and grew a lot more than I expected it to,” he said.
After Buss and Soderholm experienced the snow-nado, three others skied through it before the snow vortex dissipated after another 30-40 seconds.
“I felt pretty lucky to have been there at that time,” he said. “It’s a very rare phenomenon.”