Get Them While They’re Cold: Ice Pancakes

Jan 26, 2022 | Daily Space, Earth

IMAGE: Ice formations in Lake Michigan in Chicago taken at Loyola Beach at Rogers Park, which is about 10 miles north of downtown Chicago. CREDIT: Sharan Banagiri via CNN

We have hit that part of winter where the Sun is rising a little later every day, but for many of us, bright blue skies come with the coldest days of the year. It is, in fact, so cold that folks in Chicago are seeing a rare phenomenon out on Lake Michigan: ice pancakes.

These round disks of slushy ice form when restless water starts to freeze, but wave motion causes the ice to constantly break and the pieces to collide. Ultimately, like rocks in a river, the crashing ice chunks become rounded. Slight lips form around their edges, where material builds up during collisions and water splashes up and freezes.

While ice pancakes are rare on the great lakes, they can be found much more often in Antarctica or the Baltic Sea.

Now, before you think about wading out to load up a plate with icy goodness, we have to warn you that these disks are more slush than ice and will completely fall apart unless your spatula is big enough to support their entire 8-in to several-foot wide diameter. So, get your biggest spatula, a frozen plate, and head out to the Windy City to get some ice pancakes today. This ice phenomenon may be gone tomorrow.

Just to add to this story, Pamela feels she needs to say, you shouldn’t eat or drink anything that comes out of the Great Lakes unless local authorities have indicated it is safe. Just don’t.

More Information

Mysterious ice formations showed up in Chicago this week (CNN)

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