Winter's chill recently turned Lake Erie into "Lake Eerie," as frigid temperatures transformed a trio of lakeside houses in Hamburg, New York, into unsettling ice sculptures. The frigid cold and wind sealed the homes inside thick layers of solid ice, topped with still more frozen layers of wavy icicle "hair."
Beginning on Feb. 27 and continuing for 48 hours, winds gusted over Lake Erie at speeds up to 60 mph (97 km/h), driving lake water inland to the Hoover Beach neighborhood, AccuWeather reported.
There, freezing temperatures solidified the water wherever it was carried by the wind, forming an icy coating on several homes — and the ice just kept building up, according to The Weather Channel.
Around this time of year, ice cover is usually abundant on Lake Erie's surface. That typically prevents the shoreline from being soaked with cold water during powerful storms; however, Lake Erie's eastern end is nearly ice-free this year, leaving the shore vulnerable to spray from storm-whipped waves, The Weather Channel reported.
Ice blanketing the homes was estimated to be around 3 feet (1 meter) thick and was so solid that it even blocked daylight coming through the windows, Hoover Beach resident Ed Mis told CNN.
"It’s dark on the inside of my house," Mis said. "It looks fake, it looks unreal." The neighborhood had experienced some ice coatings like this before, but this event was the most extreme in nearly a decade, Mis told CNN.
"Welcome to Narnia," wrote John Kucko, a TV anchor in Rochester, New York. On Feb. 29, Kucko tweeted a photo showing the frozen houses.
Welcome to Narnia: Two days of gale force winds along Lake Erie have iced over many of the homes along the beach in Hamburg, NY. @news4buffalo @News_8 @EricSnitilWx @JamesGilbertWX @wnywxguy @spann @JimCantore @StephanieAbrams @StormHour @NatalieKucko pic.twitter.com/uMvIdVWMGzFebruary 29, 2020
Kucko later tweeted another photo revealing why the three houses froze while their nearest neighbors didn't. The frozen homes lacked a buffer zone of boulders on the beach in front of them; the big piles of rock broke up the waves' momentum and reduced the amount of water spray from high winds to those other homes, Kucko said.
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Originally published on Live Science.
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Mindy Weisberger is an editor at Scholastic and a former Live Science channel editor and senior writer. She has reported on general science, covering climate change, paleontology, biology, and space. Mindy studied film at Columbia University; prior to Live Science she produced, wrote and directed media for the American Museum of Natural History in New York City. Her videos about dinosaurs, astrophysics, biodiversity and evolution appear in museums and science centers worldwide, earning awards such as the CINE Golden Eagle and the Communicator Award of Excellence. Her writing has also appeared in Scientific American, The Washington Post and How It Works Magazine.