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Rare ice formations from arctic air

This latest round of frigid air is NOT the Polar Vortex making a second visit to the US. That is locked up in Canada for the time being. But it might as well be here since temperatures are just as cold as our last blast. Low temperatures have dropped into the single digits by the water, and even some below zero spots. This morning, the coldest location in Maryland (via official NWS stations) was Ocean City at -3°F

Ice balls rolling onto Lake Claire Beach in Cape St Claire, MD on Wednesday! Kate Lester took the photo, Heather Cash Kilpatrick
Ice balls rolling onto Lake Claire Beach in Cape St Claire, MD on Wednesday! Kate Lester took the photo, Heather Cash Kilpatrick
Kate Lester
Fractured ice on Back Creek at sunrise
Mark Bandy

The benefit of living by The Chesapeake Bay has allowed for some rare ice formations. While the water has frozen over across Baltimore’s Inner Harbor and northward, some of the most interesting images have come south near Annapolis. The brackish water (fresh and salt water mix) needs temperatures well below 32°F to freeze, so it is a slower process until it gets very cold. Then add in the fast winds, ebb and flow of the tidal swings, and some waves from nearby boats…. And viola. You can see a sample of these images in the slide show.

Ice Balls: These form as a layer of ice is turned over by the current, and continued to roll or spin, freezing more layers over it in the process. Many turned up on Cape St. Claire Beach.

Ice Lily Pads: These formations are fractures in the layer of ice that have not turned over, but just continue to brake in the slight waves.

Not all of the Bay has frozen yet. The most shallow water in creeks, streams, and inlets will ice over first. See the areal video from Larry Rogers showing this over Sparrows Point and Pasadena in the video clip here.

From NOAA Chesapeake Bay Interpretive Buoy System (CBIBS)

The bubbler on the Annapolis fire boat is keeping the ice away... at least for now! The water temperature at the CBIBS buoy off Annapolis was 32.5 degrees F at 10 a.m.--the gap to the current water freezing temperature of 31.2 is getting smaller!

Other formations:

The Polar Vortex a few weeks ago froze the Susquehanna River, but the flowing water beneath forced it to fracture and break. The image from Harrisburg looks like Superman’s fortress of solitude with spikes and spires. That is the breaking ice forced to push up and over each other thanks to the moving water below.

There is plenty of support from the reports I have received on my Facebook page and Twitter feed.

Kid Weather App

This is a great time to work off the active weather and see the app I made with my son (when he was 6 years old). It won a Parents Choice Award, was listed on's top 10 list of apps to teach kids science, and has been downloaded in 29 countries. We have over 400 items of trivia plus live weather and forecasts for kids. It's available on iTunes and for Android on Google Play and Amazon. See more and links for your device at

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