Formally called ice shoves, the weird walls of broken lake ice, literally, as walls of ice have risen from the lakes and piled up along the shores of the Great Lakes.
These ominous “ice tsunamis” some of which are big enough to overwhelm lampposts and retaining walls aren’t marketing stunts for the final season of Game of Thrones. Instead, they’re piles of broken-up ice blown to shore by especially strong winds.
Since Sunday, gusts of 60 miles an hour or more have been hammering the region around the Great Lakes, knocking out power and delaying air travel. Pictures shared on social media and by local emergency services also show sprawling floes of ice cluttering up beaches, roads, and even some lakeside residences.
“We’ve had storms in the past but nothing like this,” Hoover Beach, New York, resident Dave Schultz told the WGRZ news service. “We’ve never had the ice pushed up against the walls and right up onto our patios.”
Historically speaking, though, these ice tsunamis aren’t without precedent. The scientific study of these events traces back to 1822, when an anonymous U.S. naturalist reported seeing “rocks, on level ground, taking up a gradual line of march [along a lakebed] and overcoming every obstacle in … escaping the dominion of Neptune.” From 1825 onward, scientists across Earth’s northern latitudes have found that the movement of lake ice can push these wandering boulders along.
“This ice tsunami is one of the craziest things I’ve ever witnessed,” storm chaser David Piano tweeted earlier this week. “Starting to bulldoze trees and street lamps.”
Source: National Geographic