Columns of snow swirling through the winter air. The phenomenon is known as a snownado or snow devil. What causes it?
They are best described as small, rotating towers of wind that collects snow. This occurs when strong winds interact with topography. Blowing winds are obstructed by things such as larger boulders. An eddy results and the winds begin to blow in a cyclonic manner. As they move over the snow, they pick it up and a snownado is born.
Snownadoes are unlike tornadoes because they do not need surface heating to develop. Their formation is also different than that of waterspouts and dust devils.
This video has even more information on the formation of snownadoes.
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