COLOSSAL, NATURALLY FORMED ICE CIRCLE APPEARS IN A WASHINGTON RIVER

Photographer captures image of phenomenal spinning ice disk.

Over the weekend, Facebook feeds in Seattle went wild with a bizarre story about the huge circle of ice spinning just outside the city. Realising that she was close to this unusual natural phenomenon, a photographer named Katlyn Messer decided to travel to the site where she captured this extraordinary image of the ice disk spinning in the center of the Middle Fork Snoqualmie River. Describing what she had seen when she went to view the ice disk, Messer said that “ice circle was pretty captivating.” She said that she was able to hear the peaceful sound of the river flowing continuously, interacted with the sounds of the incredible ice disk which groaned and cracked under the pressure of the current. She stood mesmerized watching the ice disk for a considerable period and said that it was a peaceful and quiet experience. But what are ice circles and how are they made?

Ice circles are a fairly unusual but completely natural phenomenon which is known to occur in North America and certain areas of northern European, especially the wintery Scandinavian countries of Finland, Denmark, Sweden, and Norway. The discs are formed in incredible cold whether when slow moving rivers begin to freeze over. A large piece of ice breaks off owing to pressure from the river current. A process then occurs which is known as a ‘rotational shear’. What this means is that the slow moving current of the river gently erodes the jagged corners of the ice away at an incredibly slow pace. At the conclusion of the process, the free floating shard of ice is smoothed into a perfect circle. The ice circle then begins to settle and spin with the current of the river. Messer was certainly lucky to be able to catch a glimpse of this unusual and wonderful natural phenomenon first hand, and thanks to her incredible photographic skills the rest of the world can share her experience with her.

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