Sheila Nemcsok thought she was going for a regular lunch break until she stumbled upon something “magical”: a rare natural phenomenon called snow rollers, which are little doughnut-shaped balls of snow.
What she was witnessing just outside of Ottawa’s Supreme Court was snow rollers being formed when the wind pushes snow across the ground, gathering more snow along the way under very specific conditions.
“I noticed that something really odd was happening. I have never seen something like that before,” Nemcsok told Global News.
But what exactly are these cylindrical shaped snow balls? David Phillips, a senior climatologist at Environment Canada told CBC news that wet snow on top of an icy surface, paired with winds of at least 45 km/h, will trigger the snow to roll.
Phillips said the phenomenon will only occur when the temperature is three to four degrees above freezing, which allows the snow to roll but doesn’t melt it completely.
Snow rollers are quite rare, Phillips added, saying he was baffled by the fact that it happened in a busy city like Ottawa. When they do occur, it is usually in the countryside.
For Nemcsok, she says she stood there for a few minutes giggling at the natural phenomenon. She snapped a few pictures before taking a video.
“I made a deliberate choice to go and appreciate the weather. I thought they were very magical. They kind of looked like they were playing in the field. It was very jolly,” Nemcsok said.
In 2014, there were wide reports from people in the United States spotting the unusual winter phenomenon.