Even before the month is complete, January is officially a wet month, with today’s snow storm still to be recorded (Sunday). Earlier in the previous week, the third snowstorm of the month brought an additional 21 cm of snow, which melted down to 21 mm of water. For the four weeks of the month, we now have 45 mm of rain and 65 cm of snow, for a total of 112 mm of precipitation (rain and melted snow). This is already 30% above normal and with the final snowstorm of the month could be as much as 50% depending how much snow falls.
And also warm! Despite the fact that the average temperature has slowly dropped as the month progressed, it’s still not enough to get even close to the January normal of -8.6 degrees Celsius. The average temperature last week was -3.5 degrees Celsius, the same as the week before. The warmest January in the last 57 years was 1990 with an average temperature of -3.0 degrees Celsius.
But there will be an icy blast at the beginning of February when temperatures will drop down towards -30 degrees Celsius, then move back up close to normal for the rest of the month after that. The snow has made the ski-doo’ers happy, and a cold blast will now cheer up the ice fishers. The Chateauguay River is still open in many parts, and in the bays, few have even set foot on the ice other than to reluctantly test it out.
A snow roller is a rare meteorological phenomenon in which cylindrical snowballs are formed naturally as chunks of snow roll down hill or are blown along the ground by wind, picking up further snow along the way, in much the same way that the large snowballs used in snowmen are made. 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 or centimeters wide.
Alternative names for snow rollers include: snow bales, snow donuts, snownuts and wind snowballs. Unlike snowballs made by people, snow rollers are typically cylindrical in shape, and are often hollow since the inner layers, which are the first layers to form, are weak and thin compared to the outer layers. The inner sections can easily be blown away, leaving what looks like a doughnut or Swiss roll.
Several 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 this last condition, snow rollers are more common in hilly areas. However, the precise nature of the conditions required makes them a very rare phenomenon.