Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Something amazingly wonderful!!





Yesterday was cold - today is colder. Last night the temperature got down to 18 F (-8 C) and this morning many things were covered in frost - including our car. On the way to the car I noticed that the mole hills in our lawn looked different. And they certainly were different. They were all covered in needle frost.

This is caused when the air temperature is below freezing and the ground isn't. The moisture in the ground freezes and pushes upward in the shape of needles, starting a few inches below the surface of the soil, and twisting above. The soil has to be very damp - which our was - from previous weeks of rain and when the air is colder the needles of ice begin to form. There have been instances where needle ice grew to 16 inches (41 cm) - but mine is only about 1.5" (3.8 cm) to 2" (5.08 cm).
.

There are many names for needle ice - ice castles, frost castles, ice fringes, ice filaments, ice flowers, ice ribbons, frost flowers, and rabbit ice. I couldn't find any explanation as to why it might be called rabbit ice - but the other names are quite descriptive.

When I was growing up I was told this was hoar frost - but I see that it is not hoar frost at all, and I even taught my kids that it was hoar frost - and I shall have a hard time changing names - but I like the names ice castles and frost flowers, and I think of fairies when I see this kind of frost.


But whatever we call it, it is majestic and wonderously interesting. I had to get down close to the ground to get these photos - and it was very cold and the camera lens kept fogging up. What a glorious way to begin by seeing this fabulous ice in the mole hills.




Some ice needles were curved . . .


Wouldn't it have been great to watch it form?


Bits of gravel and grass clippings were on top of the ice . . .






Can you see the fairies dancing in the ice castles?



As the sun comes up, the fairies go back to their homes to wait for the next morning to see if there is more ice.

And a little boy comes along and crunches the ice - the most fun of all. I still like to walk on the ice and feel it crunch, crunch crunch beneath my shoes. In a few hours it was all melted and only soggy mole hills remained - waiting for another frosty cold night to come again.

What is your favorite wintery cold thing?


25 comments:

jomaj said...

WOW - I have never seen anything like it! Thanks so much for posting those pictures, it was WONDERFUL!

Joan

Sunny said...

Amazing, Jo... wow! I have never seen anything like this. So very interesting! I have heard of hoar frost, but you are right. This is def different.

Sunny said...

PS. My grandson would have gotten a shovel , tried to dig it up , and brought in to the freezer to have me save it for him. He even does that with snowballs, they are usually so rare around here.

Lynda (Granny K) said...

Well! i've never seen that before! Amazing! Thank you for braving the cold to take those pictures!

Lili said...

Oh wow that is very cool! I've never seen or even heard of anything like it. I can imagine you creeping around on the ground trying to get all those pictures for us. Some of them remind me of miniature waterfalls. Gosh I wouldn't even mind having moles if I got to see this happen! ~Lili

Dorothy said...

It's cold here too, and we're supposed to be hit with a severe snow storm tonight Yuck!
Fabulous photos JoAnn. I've never seen anything like them. Thank you for sharing them with us.

The Quintessential Magpie said...

I've never seen anything like that, Jo. It's AMAZING, and the crunching looks like fun. LOL!

XO,

Sheila :-)

Karen said...

Thanks, Jo, for sharing these photos. The ice is so beautiful! We never have temps that cold so have not seen anything like this. Thank you also for explaining how it happens. It's womderful!!

A Garden of Threads said...

Amazing, I have never seen anything like that here. Thanks for sharing that bit of magic. We are having another 20 - 30 cm of snow tonight, enough I say!

Cecilia said...

Oh Jo,
those pix are wonderful. But you're right - definitely not hoar frost. I've taken a lot of pix of ice, but have never seen anything like that, prolly because there was usually too much snow. Maybe someday I'll see something like that where we are now.

Rowan said...

What fantastic photos, I've never seen nor heard of ice crystals before but I've never looked for them either so if the conditions seem right I must keep a look out in future.

Wilma NC said...

We run into that alot on our winter hikes. I too love the sound and feel of walking on it, lol.

Crispy said...

We don't get this kind of frost. I love it when we have an ice fog and all the trees and fences get covered, then the sun comes out and it feels like you are in a snow globe with all the ice crystals in the air.

Crispy

Peg said...

This is fascinating! Never heard of needle frost before - will have to watch for it! Great pics!

JoyceAnn said...

I've seen those crystal like mounds before , but never knew what they were called or how they were made. Thanks for sharing the great info. Looks like Ben is enjoying the crunch too , boys sure can be destructive (LOL).

~ Be Blessed ~

Linda B said...

Your pictures are amazing! They remind me of the volcanic formations in Central Oregon, formed much the same way, I am sure. I guess I should have taken a walk out around the mole hills the other day so I could have witnessed this miracle. I seem to be more at peace, and plan to join you in March.

Teresa said...

Truely amazing pictures - thanks for sharing and telling about them.

andsewon said...

These are awesome pics! I have seen it but never thought to take close up pics!!! Yes lil fellas love to stomp things! Haha! A pal's son was here when we last had huge mushroom like things in yard. He had to stomp each one to see the black sooty mess. OH NO!
Hugs,
Lola

Grandma Bert said...

That is so cool! I've never seen that before. We do get hoarfrost here sometimes and it has its own charm but is even harder to photograph.

As much as I hate the cold gloomy days of freezing fog, the effect is so neat. Big ol' frost spikes grown on everything. A couple years ago we made a snowman, and Dave had it as smooth as alabaster. After a few days of freezing fog, though, it was totally furry. Then the dog peed at the base of it, so we named it Frosty the Incontinent Snowman. I have a great picture -- and memory -- of it.

Bert in Rice, WA

Deb Shucka said...

What incredible pictures! I saw needle ice coming from a stick on the ground the other day. It looked like the stick was growing hair.

My favorite wintery cold thing is coming back inside after a brisk walk to a cup of tea and a good book.

Purple Pam said...

What wonderful pictures of the ice crystals. I would love to crunch across them, too. You always take such wonderful photos. Thank you for sharing.

Kathryn Spry said...

I have never seen needle frost in TN - hope I will some day - really awesome - thanks so much for your post!

Deborah said...

I don't think I've every noticed these before. I love how everything gets quiet. I love to walk in the snow and hear the crunch too. The snow makes even trash look beautiful.

Elenka said...

That's crazy!! I've never seen anything like that before!
I had to enlarge it twice to see exactly what it was.
I'd love to see a time lapse of that actually happening!!

Porch Days said...

Fantastic. I have never seen anything like that! You must have been lying on the ground to get those close up shots! Thanks. Nancy