Sunday, February 08, 2009

Bizarre Snow Formation

This weekend it's been much warmer than the previous weeks, and most of the snow that had piled up in parking lots and backyards is melting off. Here are some photos from a quite bizarre snowpile I came across this afternoon. The whole thing is 4-5 meters high and makes a constant dripping and crunching sound (click to enlarge).


  1. Really bizarre! It looks nearly glacier-like.

    Cheers, Stefan

  2. A guess.

    Looks like someone was piling snow in front of the snow bank. The snow bank "behind" looks like it's been inundated with a lot of water being splashed on it as vehicles pass by? Warm spells, followed by snow, then a melt again

    A large volume as water descending through the ice may be part of the sound it's making


  3. Oh,the snow bank is formed by drifting snow which means there is larger opened area where the wind can sweep across?

  4. Hi Plato,

    A pretty good guess! The photo was indeed taken in a parking lot, more precisely in this parking lot (it's some hundred meters west of PI). They have piled up snow there for several weeks, and I guess the wind has blown up more snow from the back. One doesn't see it on the photo, but the hill is very smooth on the backside, one can actually walk up on it. Best,


  5. Hi Bee,

    Spring coming always brings an excitement in the air. Water sounds everywhere.

    The warming temperatures of a new spring coming allows for the most opportune times to actually walk across the snow as a crust forms.

    Snow that is a few feet wouldn't normally be able to walk through it because it is so deep. When you see the coyotes and foxes out walking across it in the early morning hours, it's okay then. As the sun warms, that time goes away.


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  7. Hi Bee,

    Yes it does look strange, yet as the snow is melting it’s certainly a welcomed sight. With the extreme cold weather extending as long as it has, I was thinking perhaps changing all my curly light bulbs for the Edison variety, well not really :-)



  8. Bee - have you considered a post on adhesion and the general case of snow avalanches (such as what happened inbounds at Snowbird this year killing a woman). There is also a great book (by a physicist) on snowflaks - I have it on my coffeet table!



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