The polar vortex of late January was miserable, but ice tsunamis may be one upping the weather phenomenon.

Since Sunday February 24, a windstorm has been hitting the region of the Great Lakes in both Canada and the US, causing flight delays, school cancellations, and power outages, but those living near Lake Eerie may have got the absolute worst of it. Gusts were so strong around the lake’s shores that blocks of ice surged above the retaining walls, forming ice shoves as high as 30 feet. Footage of the “ice tsunami” was released by the Niagara Parks Police, and it’s every bit as dramatic as it sounds.

 

In the community of Hoover Beach, in New York, ice waves crashed into several homes, prompting police to issue voluntary evacuation notices. Hoover Beach resident Dave Schultz told WGRZ, “We’ve had storms in the past but nothing like this. We’ve never had the ice pushed up against the walls and right up onto our patios…it’s in my patio, the neighbor’s patio, and the patio after that.”

According to National Geographic, ice tsunamis largely occur in early spring, when ice begins to weaken but has not yet melted, during periods of strong wind, and across gently sloping shorelines that allow for ice movement. According to meteorologist Matt Grinter, “The first slabs or sheets move on shore, creating a traffic jam with ice piling on top and behind. With the buildup of ice, and the power behind it, it has the potential to damage anything in its path.”

H/T: Smithsonian.com

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