A winter curiosity: Pancake Ice

Living near a body of water is a blessing; whether in summer or winter, a lake or a river can provide so much fun.

I’m so glad we live in a country with four seasons, despite the fact that winter lingers a little too long sometimes, enjoying the beautiful days being outside, observing the nature and the surroundings.

Winter brings a whole new life, the freezing and melting temperatures creating amazing ice formations, such as frost flowers, pancake ice, window ferns, stalactites and stalagmite icicles, frozen falls, and all sort of ice ridges and encasements.

Read more: Creatures of the Sea – The National ice-carving championship

This winter I was lucky enough to see the biggest pancake ice. The circular slab can range anywhere from one to 10 feet in diameter and up to four inches thick. The one I witnessed was about three feet in diameter, and still growing.

They are often found in areas where there is moving water. The pancake ice can begin as a thin ice layer (known as grease ice) looking like a lily pad. The current of the river pushes the slush across the water, attaching it to the ice, while the current of the water underneath creates a rotational shear, twisting it until it forms a disk. The more slush comes from the river, the bigger the pancake grow. Nice to observe that in the rotational movement, this pancake ice is perfectly round. Mother Nature is amazing, isn’t it?

“Grace grows best in winter.” —Samuel Rutherford


40 thoughts on “A winter curiosity: Pancake Ice

    1. Although I’ve seen pancake ice before, I found this one very unusual, so big and perfectly round. This is the beauty of the winter, you don’t really find same scenery in the same place.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Ahh…The beauty of winter when with shorter days and plunging temperatures comes unique natural splendour. Not everyone is a fan of the time of the year when the Northern Hemisphere is wrapped in winter’s dark shadow, but it’s when nature puts on a spectacular show for anyone willing to brave the cold. The stillness of the frozen air heightens each of the senses, making the little details of a glimmering blanket of snow or a cardinal’s song even more inspiring. Thanks for sharing and have a good day 🙂 Aiva xx

    Liked by 1 person

    1. One needs to get used with winter, if living in a such area🙂 A friend of mine, living in Ottawa (which is a bit northern than Toronto) told me it’s never too cold, it is only about having proper clothes when going outside. I tend to resonate with her. It is only you need to handle very quickly your camera, sometimes😉
      And speaking of cardinals, now that the temperatures are rising, it is a bliss to hear them out, it’s their mating time.
      Have a beautiful weekend!! xoxo

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I know you are a nature lover and an avid hiker, Allan, and I’m pretty sure you have seen several times these type of phenomena before, in various shapes and sizes. Winter provides a lot of entertainment isn’t it?
      Cheers, Christie


    1. Indeed, you’re correct, you might have seen it, but not noticing. These pancake ice tend to gather on the sides of the river, where the current is pushing them in much more calm waters. But this kind, round and big, was a first time for me as well🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Curt! It is amazing to watch how the freezing temperatures play with water.
      But we are ready for spring now, the birds are out, calling for their rights🙂


  2. Christie, I just saw my first frost flowers last week at my sister’s house in the country. When I woke up and looked out the window, I thought someone had adorned all the low vegetation with toilet paper. Imagine my surprise when I went outside to clean it up … and it melted in my hand. How cool! Now I need to find some Pancake Ice. Thanks for expanding my knowledge. ~Terri

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s