Weather Blog

Magic ice? Stump your friends with this photo

Magic ice? Stump your friends with this photo

Now here is something you don't see every day... probably because it doesn't get this cold around here every day.

Ron and Tina Flaherty found this strange ice formation in their cat's water bowl early Tuesday morning in Port Orchard, where the temperature dropped to 10 degrees. They say there was no dripping water from above -- it was under a covered awning near their sliding glass door.

Magic? Not quite...

These are called "ice spikes". The surface of the bowl of water freezes first, sealing in the water below. As that water begins to freeze, it expands, creating higher pressure under the ice lid. Eventually, the pressure will either cause a small crack or opening in the ice where water will start to dribble out -- sort of like squeezing a tube of toothpaste.

However, as that water squeezes out to the surface, it too freezes. The pattern repeats until this refreezing process creates a spike.

Here are some more photos and a video they took.


And here is time lapse video of a spike forming:

(Thanks to Garrett Wedam at the University of Washington for help with the explanation.)