Wind and Waves Helped Encase a Small New York Town in Ice

Damn, no thanks.
Damn, no thanks.
Image: AP

Imagine waking up to a dark home and realizing ice is covering your windows. And doors. And outdoor stairs. I’m not talking about no winter wonderland type experience. I’m talking about ugly, brown, prickly icicles dangling off your usually ice-free home. That’s exactly what happened to residents who live along Hoover Beach in Hamburg, New York, right next to Lake Erie this weekend.

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While Fox News referred to this spectacle as something out of the Disney movie Frozen, I’m here to give you the damn truth. These houses look gross and, quite frankly, a little dangerous. Falling icicles can hurt you. And as the images show, they were hanging everywhere: on windows, balconies, doors, and siding. Plus, having to carve your way out of—or into—your house is scary!

Anotha’ one.
Anotha’ one.
Photo: AP
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A winter storm is the culprit behind this strange scene. Last week, winds reached up to 20 mph on Lake Erie with gusts as high as 40 mph. All that wind—along with the water from waves kicking off Lake Erie and cold air—left ice covering homes some 1 to 3 feet thick.

This has happened in the past. Last year, strong winds brought water from Lake Ontario onto homes in Pulaski, New York, resulting in more ice homes.

Living on the Great Lakes is an adventure in winter weather beyond ice homes. The region is known for lake effect snow, which forms when cold, dry air moves over the Great Lakes, picks up moisture from the lakes, and dumps it along the shoreline. In 2017, the small town of Erie, Pennsylvania racked up a wild state snowfall record with 53 inches of snow falling in just 30 hours. It turns out residents along the lakeshore not only have to worry about the piles of snow that lands on them as a result of their proximity to Lake Erie. They now have to worry about that water covering their home as ice. Upstate New York is known for its brutal winters, but these homes are some next-level shit.

And that much ice poses some risk—especially when it starts to melt.

See those boxes? Those are windows. Covered in dirty ice.
See those boxes? Those are windows. Covered in dirty ice.
Photo: AP
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See those stairs? Looks like a slip waiting to happen.
See those stairs? Looks like a slip waiting to happen.
Photo: AP
So. Much. Ice.
So. Much. Ice.
Photo: AP
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Yessenia Funes is climate editor at Atmos Magazine. She loves Earther forever.

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DISCUSSION

northbx
burner'down

Hopefully some (most?) of these are summer homes and so unoccupied at this time of year. But just think about the structural damage that much ice can do to a home. I hope none of these folks were particularly attached to their gutters, or what looks like a satellite dish in the second photo.