Mysterious Ice Formations Appeared In Chicago This Week

This ice cave dazzles tourists in Switzerland 1:03

(WABNEWS) — You’ve heard of blizzards and maybe the polar vortex, but have you heard of ice pancakes? What about ice picks or ice jams? These unique names sound fascinating but require specific weather conditions.

Pancake ice was found this week along the shoreline of Lake Michigan in Chicago.

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Sharan Banagiri’s photos were taken at Loyola Beach in Rogers Park, about 10 miles north of downtown. Banagiri told CNN that these photos were taken in a corridor on the way to a lighthouse. Banagiri noted that the temperature at the time the photos were taken was around -6 degrees Celsius.

Great Lakes ice coverage is currently at 21.9%, which is the highest (tied with 2019) for this date in the last six years. Lake Michigan also has 20% ice cover, close to the average to date.

This time of year, due to very cold temperatures in much of the northern US, quirks like ice pancakes, ice bites, and ice balls crop up.

Ice pancakes, much like their namesake, look exactly what you think they would look like: round, flat discs made of ice. They are common in the Arctic, but usually only start showing up in the lower 48 states once temperatures drop below freezing for several days.

The phenomenon is strictly limited to bodies of water such as rivers, lakes or oceans.

Once those bodies of water are cold enough, the ice chunks that have started to form will collide with each other forming elliptical-shaped disks with round edges.

“A distinctive feature of pancake ice is the raised edges, or ridges on the perimeter, caused by the pancakes crashing into each other with ocean waves,” explains the National Snow and Ice Data Center.

Lake Michigan covered in ice on the Chicago lakefront 🧊🚁 #chicago #ilwx pic.twitter.com/c0kwIwiNXq

Ryan Alioto also took advantage of the cold temperatures in the Great Lakes region to take photos and videos with his drone as he flew over Lake Michigan in Chicago. He told CNN that at the time he took the images, the temperature was around minus 8 degrees Celsius.

Other phenomena such as ice balls, ice jams, and even ice pitting can also be seen on and along the Great Lakes during the winter months.

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