Frost Flowers & Gifts of Cold Weather

January 31st, 2019 § 4 comments § permalink

Frost Flowers: Gift of Still, Cold, Dry Winter Air

Mid-Winter in north country can be brutally cold –I’ll be the first to admit that single digit and sub zero temps aren’t my favorite– but if you’re willing to bundle up and explore, you’ll find that even the most frigid days have their beauty. Frost flowers are one of the great gifts of cold, dry winter air and smooth, clear, frozen bodies of water. Have you spotted these icy ephemerals this season?

Frost Flower Drift on Thin Ice

Frost flowers aren’t flowers at all of course, but a rare, natural phenomenon, usually occurring on windless mornings when outside air temperatures are below 5F. These exquisite, frozen “blossoms” form when water vapor —slightly warmer than surrounding air— crystalizes on the surface of smooth ice. When conditions are just right, entire meadows of frost flowers will bloom on open waters. If you hope to spot a field of these frozen beauties, you’ll have to be an early riser; frost flowers only bloom in extreme cold, and they quickly fade away with the warmth of even the chilliest winter sunrise.Warm, Winter Sunlight Quickly Melts the Crystal Flowers Away 

Find more fascinating ice formations —including a different kind of frost flowers— and scientific explanations for the phenomenon, here. 

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