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Frozen Niagara Falls: Stunning photos surface, but Falls are not frozen solid

Washington Post
Washington Post
The U.S. side of the Niagara Falls on January 8. Frozen up, but still plunging.

Frozen Niagara Falls photos are making their way around the web this week, after the deep freeze, dubbed the “polar vortex,” sheathed a good portion of the U.S. with sub-zero temps and heavy snow.

However, reports that one of the wonders of the modern world is frozen solid are just a bunch of gobbledygook. The Washington Post reported on Thursday that claims of a “frozen-solid Niagara Falls… are either totally misleading or outright false.”

Flow rates over the 167 foot cataracts are far too enormous to be frozen solid. More than six million cubic feet of water falls over the crest line every minute in high flow, and almost four million cubic feet falls on average. That’s about 76,000 gallon per second.

In other words, way too much to actually be brought to an iced up stand-still. Still, the huge ice formations created by falling water and frozen mists are a thing a beauty and a powerful reminder that nature can be equal parts devastating and breathtaking.

While Niagara Falls hasn’t frozen over, the Buffalo News did report unprecedented ice jams were causing flash-flood warnings to be issued Tuesday as storm drains became blocked and water mains began to burst.

But none of the recent deep freezes can compare to the Blizzard of ’77, as one Buffalo News reporter put it:

“The current blizzard ending late Tuesday or early today just can’t compare with the 1977 version, the all-time measuring stick for area storms. The current storm falls far short, in wind gusts, sustained winds, volume of blowing snow, duration, number of stranded people and, luckily, deaths.”

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