Railroad Track Snow Peculiarities

February 17, 2011

RailroadTracksand Snow 
Photographer: Carl Crumley
Summary Author: Carl Crumley; Jim Foster

These unused railroad tracks near Farmington, New York have little tufts of snow at regular intervals along the rails. Such a pattern would not of course result from normal accumulation and snowmelt processes. Rather, expansion gaps between the rails play a role (click here for photo showing tracks a day earlier). The shallow snow covering the rails quickly melted when the rails were warmed by the Sun; whereas the ground area between the rails remained cold enough to hold onto the overlying snow. The depth of snow in the gaps may have been somewhat greater initially since they, together with the adjacent rails, perhaps acted as a miniature snow fence of sorts. Photo taken on January 14, 2011.