It does not snow in Sri Lanka

I was forwarded this photograph that purported to show snow in Sri Lanka.

As soon as I saw it I was skeptical. The catch is that Sri Lanka is a tropical island that is just a few degrees north of the equator, somewhat like Hawaii in climate, so snow would be very unusual even given the erratic weather patterns caused by climate change. Furthermore, I lived for many years in the area shown in the photograph and I cannot recall even needing a sweater at any time. It is at an elevation of less than 2,000 ft above sea level.

My initial reaction was that this is one of the many doctored images that float around the internet, especially since there was no sign of snow on the trees or on top of the cars and buildings.

But a friend in Sri Lanka says that while it is not snow, it is not a hoax either, that the material used to resurface the roads results in a soap-like foam emerging after it rains. This apparently happens all over the globe but I have never encountered it myself.

Has anyone observed this?


  1. Rob Grigjanis says

    A bit OT:

    Watching reruns of the British quiz show QI, I was informed that the skid marks caused by cars “laying rubber” are not in fact made of rubber. Friction heats up the road surface, resulting in bitumen melting and coming up to the surface. I expect my ignorance is partly due to never having driven a car nor ridden a motorbike. I was never fit enough to “lay rubber” with my bicycle. 😉

  2. Bruce says

    I note that the white stuff is only on the part of thr road where people drive, and is not on the left edge where people park. So that suggests it is helped by the driving, while real snow would be more on the edge and less where compressed.
    As to the location, I see lush vegetation, I see people driving on the left, as is done in only Japan and a few UK influenced islands, such as Sri Lanka. It doesn’t look like Japan or Malta, for example. I see cars with yellow license plates on the rear, yet white ones in front. Does that all match Sri Lanka?
    Overall, I think your analysis is correct.

  3. Mano Singham says


    Yes, those features are correct, except that I am not sure about the two colors on the license plates. They keep making changes and it may be that license plates changed color at some point and what you see are different colors depending on when they got them.

  4. Alan G. Humphrey says

    Rob Grigjanis @ 1
    A bit skeptical:
    As you wander through your neighborhood observe concrete curbs at intersections, either painted or not, and reconsider whether bitumen is the primary material in tire skid marks. I also remember seeing black marks on tree roots during some hikes on dirt bike trails, especially on the steeper portions.

  5. Rob Grigjanis says

    Alan G. Humphrey @4: So I checked wikipedia, and it seems the answer is (as is often the case) more complicated.

    On asphalt road surfaces, skid marks are usually the result of bituminous oils in the asphalt that are heated because of the friction of braking or accelerating and rise to the surface, leaving dark marks.

    On other road surfaces, such as concrete, the marks result from the deposition of tire compounds onto the surface of the roadway.

  6. Mark Dowd says

    Other clues:
    Not a fleck of snow on the vehicles. If it really never snows there, they’re not going to have ice scrapers in their car to brush that off the hood and roof.

    Not a fleck of snow on any off the trees or the building roofs in the top right.

    In fact, there’s no “snow” ANYWHERE except the road surface.

    No snow fluff getting whipped up by the wind.

    I live in Michigan. You’d either have to be a complete moron or never seen snow in your life to fall for something this stupid.

  7. says

    On close(ish) inspection of the photo, the stuff does look a bit more like soap suds than snow. Hope those people on motorcycles aren’t getting too much of it kicked up at them by the vehicles in front of them…

  8. Ikram says

    This is in sri lanka somewhere in Colombo and definitely not snow and definitely its doctored. However for those who are not aware, about 285 kilometres from Colombo in Nuwara Eliya in the central Hilly part of Sri Lanka ( Famously called little England) there has been rare occasions when it had snowed in patches in certain areas. So otherwise there’s no snow, except for Snoring 😴.

  9. Shanti says

    This is a hoax. I live in Sri Lanka and know lots of people who live in that area and checked as this video doing the rounds few weeks back. No such thing happened and roads not covered with anything

  10. lanir says

    I’m not certain but I think I saw this once or twice as a kid in the US. I think it was either in a driveway or a parking lot, not on a street. These are dim, not very important memories from decades ago when I was a small child so I can’t be certain of any of it. But I want to say I was told it was a sealant and I think we were told not to play around it. Which makes sense because I’d be kind of shocked if that was a completely benign chemical.

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