Weird Wintery Phenomena You’ll Only See When It’s Cold

There are people who tolerate the cold very well and others who don’t. If you’re one of the latter, you’ve probably complained about missing the warm sunshine, having to scrape ice off the windows of your car, wearing many layers of clothing and freezing when you get out of the shower. We often don’t see the beauty that the cold offers. Actually, there are several phenomena that only happen when it’s cold. You just may change your mind about the cold as you read these five wonders.      

1. Pancake Ice

One of the winter masterpieces is pancake ice. They are mainly found in Antarctica and the Baltic Sea but also in other colder regions if the conditions are favorable. Pancake ice are circular slabs usually about ten inches in diameter and four inches thick found on the surface of rivers or lakes, when air temperature is below freezing. A thin layer of grease ice or slush at the top of moving water begins to break apart and bump into each other, which overtime shapes the ice slabs into discs. The ridges of the pancake disks form when water or fresh slush splashes between the edges of the circular disks causing the edges to freeze.

2. Hoar frost

If you’ve ever seen these during the cold months then you likely thought that it seemed straight out of the scene of a whimsical winter wonderland. Hoar frost is formed when water vapor forms into ice crystals. The word “hoar” comes from old English which refers to the old aged appearance of frost, meaning that the ice crystals resemble white hair or a beard. Hoar frost has a light and feathery appearance on the trees. It requires the right conditions to form. When water vapor in the air gets into contact with any solid surface with temperature below freezing point, hoar frost forms and ice crystals grow on the surface.

3. Skypunch 

Skypunch also referred to as fallstreak holes, appear as openings in the sheets of clouds. One may think that someone punched a hole in the clouds or scooped some of it. In the clouds, water droplets below zero degrees but not cold enough to form snow, do not freeze. They remain super cold and eventually some begin to freeze. The water vapor in the cloud that does not freeze evaporates, leaving a hole. It has been found that the process of freezing is initiated by passing planes.

4. Penitentes 

Penitentes are unusual ice formations. They appear as thin, elongated, closely shaped blades of hardened snow or ice that face the general direction of the sun. They are often found in the Andes highlands where the air is dry. These structures which can be as tall as five meters are formed through sublimation where the sun’s rays turn the snow directly to water vapor. Sublimation occurs on some parts of the snow more quickly than others, producing deeper and deeper depressions and the spikes form over time.

5. Ice Balls

Do you enjoy making snowballs and engaging in snowball fights? Well imagine finding naturally occurring ice balls. These may not be suitable for playing as they can weigh as much as fifty pounds. Ice Balls, also referred to as ice boulders are made from a slushy mixture of ice crystals and water (frazil ice), which are rolled continuously by rough waters and powerful gusts, giving it a spherical shape.



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