Watermelon snow appearing in Pacific Northwest mountains

SEATTLE (AP) - A strange phenomenon is appearing in the mountains of the Pacific Northwest.

KING-TV reports that big, pink ponds are dotting the higher elevations -- a result of something called "watermelon snow."

Dr. Robin Kodner, a professor at Western Washington University, says it stems from an algae that turns snow pink at seemingly random times and places.

She says they have a lot of basic questions about the algae.

Watermelon snow is a relatively regular occurrence and has been spotted from Washington to Peru.

While it is pretty to look at, Kodner worries the algae may actually make snow melt faster, impacting the world's melting glaciers.

Kodner doesn't think the algae is a huge risk, but she says the situation merits more study.

To that end, she's giving out kits for "citizen scientists" to collect samples to be analyzed at the university. You can get a kit by visiting the Kodner Lab's website.

Be the first to know with the KXLY news app. Breaking news alerts, watch live newscasts and get the most up-to-date local news on the go.  Click here to download for iOS and Android.