Siberia... It’s always Siberia, isn’t it?
An 18-kilometer (11-mile) stretch of beach in the frosty depths of Russia has been covered by thousands of giant snowballs. The smooth icy spheres range in size, with some larger than a basketball. The strange event occurred along the coast of Nyda, a Siberian town just above the Arctic Circle.
“Even old-timers say they see this phenomenon for the first time," Valery Akulov, from the local administration, told the Siberian Times. "These balls appeared about a week and a half ago."
It’s been a particularly chilly and snowy past month for the area – and in Siberia, that's saying something. This could perhaps explain the freak goings-on, although no one is actually certain.
Sergei Lisenkov, press secretary of the Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute, went on Russian television to explain the snowballs, saying it's possible that the slushy ice formed when the water began to leave the beach. The strong winds then rolled this slush over the wet sand, which allowed new layers of ice to form on top of each other. The constant rolling from the wind built them up into a spherical formation.
"As a rule, first there is a primary natural phenomenon – sludge ice... Then comes a combination of the effects of the wind, the lay of the coastline, and the temperature… It can be such an original combination that it results in the formation of balls like these," Lisenkov said, according to a translation by BBC News.
This bizarre phenomenon has been spotted before. Around the new year in 2014, similar snowballs were found on the edge of Lake Michigan, one of the five Great Lakes of North America.