Snow Rollers!

Overnight Fargo Moorhead pick up approximately 1 inch of snow (I measured 1.3″).  It was relatively fluffy and fell on top of a snowpack that was crusted over.  Because of the fluffy nature of the snow overnight in combination with a strong northwest wind today, I was nervous it would turn blustery with some blowing snow.  This was certainly the case in some parts of northeastern North Dakota and northwestern Minnesota where the temperature remained below freezing all day.

But the day turned out unique for a different reason around Fargo Moorhead.  Although there were some pockets of blowing and drifting snow, the air temperature in combination with periodic bouts of sunshine allowed the fluffy snow from this morning to gradually soften during the day.  Yet, at the same time, the wind gusting over 30 mph tried to push the snow.  As the snow started to move, it started to stick to the slowly softening snow which in turn created a small snowball.

Just like when you make a snowman, the wind instead of human muscles started to roll the snow into slowly growing snowballs.  This phenomenon  is somewhat rare as it takes a unique set of circumstances to develop and we had all the right ingredients this afternoon.  Below are some pictures from my somewhat open backyard and the result.  Snow rollers!

Click on any of the images below to enlarge.

Crepuscular Rays

The WDAY Facebook page last week briefly became a gathering point for people discussing the beauty of crepuscular rays.  Not a science fiction weapon of mass destruction, crepuscular rays are when light, usually sunlight, is partially blocked by clouds or trees, creating a fan of light and dark bands spreading outward in a widening array.  The result is often described as heavenly.  The term, crepuscular, refers to the time of day in which these rays are most easily seen; early morning and late evening, when the side lighting in the sky is better for revealing contrasts of light and dark.

Summertime is the time of year we are most often treated to a crepuscular display as the cauliflower-like tops of summer thunderstorms are perfect for blocking out the direct light from the sun while leaving much of the scattered bright light of the atmosphere alone.

So if you want to impress you friends, the next time you see beams of light crowning out from the sun, call them by their scientific name, crepuscular rays.

Here is an example:

Great Show

According to numerous reports, including information from the Minnesota Department of Tourism, the autumn foliage show should be at peak, or very close to peak around the area this weekend.  Although the extreme northern portions of Minnesota probably have already peaked, west-central Minnesota looks to be peaking this week, with the southern one-third of the state probably peaking in another six to ten days.

Already I have received numerous pictures of the gorgeous scenery, especially in areas around Bemidji, Park Rapids and Detroit Lakes.  Another area that could be putting on a spectacular show this weekend will be along the Sheyenne River Valley Scenic Byway running from Lake Ashtabula to Lisbon.  The weather looks generally sunny this weekend allowing the leaves to put on their best possible show.

After a very poor autumn event last year caused by a very hard freeze, the colors this year looks to be worth the drive to see nature at its finest.  Below are a couple of shots sent to us by viewers: