Tagged: Canada

Bizarre snow spirals are forming in the wondrous land we call Canada

If you love snow, Canada is a pretty fantastic place to be, but a strange phenomenon is being observed in some parts of the country that is capturing the imaginations of everyone, regardless of their affinity (or lack thereof) for the powdery white stuff. Bizarre “snow rollers,” which are chunks of snow that roll themselves into larger spirals, have been captured on video, and they look like pure witchcraft.

They’re quite a sight to behold, but there’s actually a well-documented natural recipe for these strange snow donuts. A mix of wind and a very specific condition of snow is required for them to form, and it’s a rare occurrence.


“These delicate formations need just the right mix of moisture, snow, wind, and temperature,” the National Weather Service explains. “The snow has to be a light dusting, sticky enough to adhere to itself but on a surface that it won’t cling to. The wind has to be strong enough to encourage these mounds of snow to curl up and form their signature loop, but not so strong that the whole thing gets blown apart. Alternatively, the snow could be on a hill and gently roll downslope to form the same shape.”

Wind speeds need to be around 30 miles per hour for the snow to begin its roll, but no faster, as speedy winds will tear the rolls apart before they have a chance to grow to their full potential. Because a straight and steady wind is required, snow rollers aren’t normally seen in larger cities. Rural areas with large spaces of flat land are much more likely to produce the odd phenomenon.

Even rarer than the snow rollers themselves is the fact that this time they were captured in the process of forming. In any case, it’s a pretty fantastic little clip, and a friendly reminder that Canada is a land of magic and wonder. And lots and lots of snow.

Australia stole a big chunk of land from Canada 1.7 billion years ago

We all learned back in geography class that what we see as present-day continents were once a big mashup of land that broke off into different chunks, collided with others, and eventually formed the world as we know it. Still, there are some quirks about continental drift that we’re still learning, and new research from scientists in Australia has revealed that a big chunk of land on their home continent actually originated in what would become Canada.

The research, which was published in the Geology, began when the team realized that some of the sandstone rocks that make up an area of northern Queensland didn’t seem to belong there. The rock was so different from what they were used to seeing that they decided to seek out its origins and were taken back in time 1.7 billion years.

The scientists believe that the large rock mass was originally attached to the North American continent some 1.7 billion years ago, well before the most recent super continent collision that created Pangea a few hundred million years ago. That older supercontinent is known as Nuna, and when the North American chunk met up with what would become Australia, the large land mass broke off from its home and collided with Australia.

“This was a critical part of global continental reorganization when almost all continents on Earth assembled to form the supercontinent called Nuna,” Curtin University PhD student Adam Nordsvan explains. “Our research shows that about 1.7 billion years ago, Georgetown rocks were deposited into a shallow sea when the region was part of North America. Georgetown then broke away from North America and collided with the Mount Isa region of northern Australia around 100 million years later.”

The discovery is not only important in the greater understanding of Australia’s geological history, but could also help paint a clearer picture of what the Earth looked like between 1.7 billion and 1.6 billion years ago. The research team believes that when the land mass collided with Australia it was relatively gentle, and while it would likely have created mountainous terrain over time, it wasn’t a violent event like the one between India and Asia that created the Himalayas.