Hell Yes, Weird Ice Disk Season Is Upon Us

Gif: WBAI (Twitter)

With winter comes changes, many of which are bad. The days get darker sooner. Christmas carols play everywhere. Sure, there are good things about winter, but at least for me, it’s particularly hard to find joy in the early days of the season, when the memory of summer and fall is still fresh.

If you’re like me, then may I offer you a life raft in this sea of turbulent early winter emotions? Or more aptly, a life ice disk.

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Video emerged on Thursday of the first known swirly ice disk of the season. While smaller than the monstrous platter of ice that clogged Maine’s Presumpscot River last year, the new floating circle of ice spotted in Haynesville, Maine is still enough to stir my cold, dead heart.

Local television station WABI shared footage a viewer captured of the ice disk. Though the station didn’t identify the exact location, it’s likely on the Mattawamkeag River that cuts through the tiny hamlet in the northeast part of the state near the U.S.-Canada border.

The video shows the disk lazily rotating in the river current. Ice disks are usually a dead-of-winter phenomenon, but there’s no official ice disk season (sorry, I totally lied to you in the headline and I hope you can forgive me). They can form anytime the weather gets cold. And this week’s record cold snap in the eastern U.S. certainly helped with that part of the ice disk recipe.

In fact, ice can take many shapes in the winter, from balls to a pack of marauding blocks. But languorous spinning ice usually only happens near bends in a river. As water flows down the river and snakes into the bend, it gets caught in eddies. If a nucleus of enough ice starts to swirl there, a mat can grow as more water swirls into its vortex. As it keeps spinning and growing, the ice can run into the shore, which essentially sands down the edges to keep it a smooth circle. Add in varying degrees of thickness and areas where more or less air gets trapped in the ice, and you have the recipe for a mesmerizing disk that looks like some alien moon.

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But never mind that science stuff. You came here to be soothed by the hypnotic swirl of ice, the frozen panacea to deepening winter.

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