Ice formations emerge

January 22, 2009 4:09:47 PM PST
You've seen the elaborate ice formations hanging along the sides of area roadways.How cold is it? So cold nature has become an artist.

Roadways along natural rock face, like parts of the Schuykill and the winding Lincoln Drive, are now sporting shards and spears of ice that look like sculptures.

Standing along Lincoln Drive, Temple geologist Laura Toran said it wasn't the weather that was giving her chills.

"I could look at it for an hour or more and see different patterns in it," Toran said.

And the display is not only art, it's a show of science. This is not snow that's melted and refrozen as ice. It's actually groundwater, pushed to the surface as more water, like rain, is absorbed into the earth.

When the water breaks through the ground and rock, it's relatively warm, but the frigid air spins it into crystalline swirls and shapes.

For us to get this much of a show is proof of how long we've been in the deep freeze.

There's something special about this outcropping, ice is formed about a conduit of water literally bubbling out of the ground; you can call it Nature's lava lamp.

It's worth slowing down and paying attention, especially since it doesn't take long for nature to close the show.

"It wouldn't take too long, a day or two of warm weather, and it would start melting," Toran said.

So if your commute tomorrow takes you past cliffs and rock, be thankful for any backups. This is one time of year a traffic jam could leave you with a better view and a smile.

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