6 Weird Winter Weather Phenomena You Can See in Western New York
Western New Yorkers are totally tough when it comes to the frozen white stuff.
From Jimmy Griffin's sage advice to Buffalonians during the Blizzard of '85 to "Stay inside, grab a six-pack, and watch a good football game," to finding things to love about winter when we do venture outdoors -- no one does winter like Western New York.
But you have to admit -- it can get, well, weird around here in winter. Here are six really fascinating (and cool) winter weather phenomena you can spot in WNY.
1. Snow Rollers
These little guys have a few names: snow rollers, snow rolls, or (my favorite) snow bales. They form when both the wind and snow type is just right.
A snow roller is a rare meteorological phenomenon in which cylindrical snowballs are formed naturally as chunks of snow roll down hill or are blown along the ground by wind, picking up further snow along the way, in much the same way that the large snowballs used in snowmen are made.
2. Sundog Rainbows
A rainbow is a reflection of sunlight bouncing off a reflective surface (traditionally rain or mist) that our eyes see as a rainbow.
When it's really cold, ice crystals stay suspended in the air, and just like mist would, you're able to see the shape of the rainbow across the entire horizon.
According to Wikipedia: "A sun dog (or sundog) or mock sun, formally called a parhelion in meteorology, is an atmospheric optical phenomenon that consists of a bright spot to one or both sides of the Sun. Two sun dogs often flank the Sun within a 22° halo."
3. Frost quakes
This is a phenomenon you're more likely to hear than feel -- frost quakes! They happen when the groundwater freezes, and therefore expands, pushing and shoving the earth around with it.
4. Ice Volcanoes
Now this is cool, and the one pictured below is at Letchworth State Park.
Basically, an ice volcano is what happens when ice builds up around a bubbling/moving water source and freezes into a little mountain over time. The still-moving water underneath is pushed up through the ice and that's how you wind up with this beauty.
5. Black Ice
Western New Yorkers are no stranger to this driving (and walking) danger. Black ice happens when snow or sleet is wet when it hits a surface -- like the road -- and quickly refreezes -- making the slick spots hard to spot.
There's nothing trickier, especially when traveling on the Thruway and encountering black ice.
6. Lake Effect Snow
If you don't live near one of the Great Lakes, "lake effect snow" can be hard to describe. Buffalonians know how unpredictable lake effect snow can be, as you see the clear bands between total whiteout and completely clear conditions in this time lapse.
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