Yellow, orange and brown stuff falling from the sky? Snowed-in residents mystified by strange phenomenon

By Brian Lada, AccuWeather meteorologist and staff writer
April 12, 2019, 4:51:01 AM EDT

(Twitter photo/Jaclyn Doble)

Brown snow coats white snow in southern Minnesota on Thursday, April 11, 2019.

(Twitter photo/Gary Klein)

The snow appears orange in Rochester, Minnesota, on Thursday, April 11, 2019.

(Twitter photo/Amy Juaire)

Brown snow covers areas of the ground in Lakeville, Minnesota.

(Twitter photo/Minnesota Gass Geek)

A mix of white and brown snow appears in Lakeville, Minnesota.

(Photo/Dr. Nathan Moore, Physics Professor, Winona State University)

Colored snow is spotted in Winona, Minnesota, on Thursday, April 11, 2019.

(Twitter photo/@jhaagenstad)

Colored snow is captured in Eagan, Minnesota, on Thursday, April 11, 2019.


People were puzzled across the central United States on Thursday when they looked outside to see an unusual sight: brown snow.

Snow appeared to have a yellow, orange or brown tint to it in parts of Nebraska, South Dakota, Minnesota and Wisconsin. Minneapolis was one of the bigger cities that saw this unusual weather phenomenon.

Social media users commented that it looked like bits of frozen ice tea were mixed in with the snow. Some even said that it looked poopy brown.

The origins of these colors can be traced back hundreds of miles to Texas and New Mexico.


On Wednesday, powerful winds on the back side of the storm in the central U.S. picked up dust and lofted it high into the atmosphere. These winds blew the dust northward, where it mixed with the snow and fell on the northern side of the storm on Thursday.

The colored snow is not harmful, although people may not want to attempt to eat it.

Although colored snow like this is unusual, it is not unheard of. Earlier this winter, black snow fell in Russia as coal dust mixed in with snow before falling to the ground.

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The National Weather Service (NWS) explained the origin of the dust on Twitter with the help of imagery from the GOES-16 weather satellite.


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