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READER FEEDBACK (CONTINUED): A popular suggestion was that Coriolis forces twisted the snow around the wire. This cannot be correct because the scale of the phenomenon is too small for a significant Coriolis effect. Likewise, water swirling down the drain of your shower is not guided by the Coriolis force; hurricanes, however, are.
Many readers noticed that the swirl of the snow was perpendicular to the underlying braid of the wire. This observation led to the most elegant explanation: "As the snow slides down, it will follow the twist of the wire, hence the spiral builds up with the opposite twist," said reader Jim Easterbrook. Another reader, Uwe Heine, added that "snow sliding down compresses the snow ahead of it. As the spirals 'pile up' the 'wavelength' of the spirals gets shorter, hence the shorter spirals near the ground." Many correspondents echoed these ideas.
Other ideas involving wind and the circular vibration of the guy wire had merit, too, but we will give the last word to reader Matt Kolasinski: "I think it was a bunch of snow sprites having some fun, building their own version of a luge run." Case closed.
"I think it was a bunch of snow sprites having some fun, building their own version of a luge run." Case closed.