21 February 2016

Incoming !

In the spring in Minnesota, the ice is supposed to "go out."  But sometimes, it comes in...

There are valid reasons why lake associations and building codes specify setbacks from lakeshore; most of these have to do with preservation of the riparian environment, but as the video above shows, a setback can help protect a home.

This event happened on Lake Mille Lacs, which is large enough to have a long fetch for the wind; the risks would be lower on a smaller lake unless repeated icejacking occurred.

There is a second video of the aftermath of the ice heave.

The Telegraph has a report (with video) of even more massive damage in Canada (12 homes destroyed by a 29-foot wall of ice)

Addendum:  Reposted from 2013 to add this visually-appealing video of ice stacking on Lake Superior:

Four hours of 12-15 mph steady winds from the SW led to the movement of the large sheets of ice on Lake Superior on February 13, 2016. The conditions during the two hours of filming ranged from -8°F to +3°F air temp (-20°F to -8°F windchill) with winds 5-10 mph from the SW. Due to the mild winter, Lake Superior has experienced less ice cover than usual, and consequently the ice has not formed as thick as typical winters. (Weather data courtesy of the National Weather Service in Duluth) [For our friends using the metric system: Celsius: - 22c to -29c; wind speed from: 19-24 km; ice thickness: .5cm - 7.5cm]

This video is being shown at normal speed. For those who have not witnessed an event like this in person, it may look as if this is time-lapse photography or video processed at a faster speed. Some ice stacking events move more slowly, especially when the wind is weaker or intermittent. The large sheets of ice shown in this video had pretty good momentum from sustained winds, but at one point the ice came to a groaning halt and the silence seemed almost deafening; it was a little eerie. Then the breeze picked up and the ice was on the move again, stacking plates. I enjoyed a two hour immersion in this experience at Brighton Beach, creating photographs and video footage and simply observing. This two minute compilation of excerpts is a small sampling of what was recorded.


  1. Fascinating to watch, and not a little scary.
    I lived for a while on an island in the middle of the Baltic Sea, and became fascinated by the dynamics of sea ice, but I never saw anything like this, -I'm glad I now live on a hill.

  2. Wow. I wonder if that was their home? Because I would have been completely freaking out about my house when I saw the ice creep coming. It was like watching some sort of zombie apocalypse movie...they move slow...but there are so many. So many...

  3. As a Texan who rarely sees snow or ice (though we see plenty of tornados), I find this video disturbing to the point of giving me a stomach ache from dread and horror. I had nightmares. The relentless, unstoppable progress of a creeping pile of shards of ice.... that sound it makes....yikes. But I also find it really cool, and spent a good part of my evening last night investigating the physical and scientific causes of such a phenomena. Thanks for always dropping interesting things out there on the web, and inspiring your readers to never stop learning.

  4. This is fascinating! The sounds the ice make as it pushes ashore is horrifying though. I lived by the Mississippi and Illinois rivers and always hated the way the ice sounded as it bumped together. I could hear it from my house and it would keep me up at night when I was a child because it sounded like a monster.


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