Here’s an interesting winter phenomenon: the “snownado” or “snow whirlwind”.
The snow-twister forms when wind currents collide and spin the loose snow crystals up towards the sky. It’s along the same lines as a “dust-devil”, but doesn’t need hot and cold air to from – only two opposing wind currents.
Snownadoes (and dust-devils) aren’t measured with the Fujita scale like an actual tornado is, and can be considered harmless. Winds would typically top out around 70-90km/h (45-55mph) and the snownado will dissipate within a minute or two of forming.
I managed to capture these shots of a snownado when I had set up camp near the town of Nordegg on an early winter camping excursion in “Bigfoot‘s backyard”.
Here the Snownado starts to form – swirling wind currents starts to pickup loose snow crystals.
A few brief seconds later, the Snownado has some form and begins its tight swirling motion.
I’ve attempted to bring out some details in the photographs – here you can see some very definitive swirling patterns.
At this point, the snownado is about halfway through its life cycle. The concentration at the base is clearly weakening.
It looked like the snow twister was going to break into two here, but this was just the final few moments of the whirlwind.
And that’s about it… as quickly as it formed, it disappeared – back into nothing more than a bit of loose snow blowing through my camp site.
Have you experienced any unusual weather phenomenon? Tell us about it in the comments below!
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