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  • Writer's pictureCarole Chantler

What are snownadoes?

Updated: May 15, 2023


Only six have been captured on camera with four coming from Ontario, Canada. The reason snownadoes, or snow devils, are so uncommon is that they take very specific weather events to occur. What is known about them is that they are closely related to watersports. Since they form over ice-covered lakes and snow-covered areas. For snow devils to occur, there must be a colder air mass passing over a warm surface heated by sunlight, a low-level wind shear or colliding air current to get the rising air to spin. A warm surface causes the snow or ice to form fog or steam. If there is a rising column of cold air above this, it will begin to rise and wind shear will cause it to spin and pick up loose snow forming the funnel. Snow devils are capable of growing to 9 metres wide, and 14 metres high and can lift up to 1,500 pounds. They usually occur under or before a snow squall and indicate more snow on the way.

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