In late October, far in Russia’s north, villagers in the Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous Okrug discovered an unusual sight: thousands of giant snowballs have formed naturally on the frozen banks of a local river. According to the Vesti news network, the enormous ice balls formed after heavy snowfall, followed by a thaw and a sudden rainstorm.
“All along the shore, lumps of snow and ice formed, and when the surf came in, strong waves started to break up masses of snow into small pieces and roll them in the sand. The pieces of ice started to grow. And so we get these balls of different sizes,” a local housing and social development official told reporters.
Some of the snowballs are as big as 25 centimeters (almost 10 inches) in diameter. The balls formed roughly two weeks ago, and they remain there still. Villagers have come to the riverbank to photograph themselves sitting on the snowballs.
Two years ago, similar snowballs formed naturally in St. Petersburg, though they were less than half the size of what has been discovered in Yamalo-Nenets.