Ice circles, Part 3: More readers share their photos, tales

Ever since I wrote about a mysterious ice circle a few weeks ago, I’ve been hearing from readers who thought the phenomenon was pretty cool.

Alas, it seems that those circles weren’t caused by aliens, nor by deer chasing their tails, as a couple of readers suggested, tongue-in-cheek.

Instead, the circles are caused by natural eddies in a stream or river.

And apparently, they’re pretty common. Over the past week I’ve heard from two more readers who shared their photos and stories.

One of a pair of ice circles spotted in Lincolnville recently. (Photo courtesy of Diann Henderson)

One of a pair of ice circles spotted in Lincolnville recently. (Photo courtesy of Diann Henderson)

First up is Diann Henderson of Camden, who is a retired science teacher and a Maine Master Naturalist. Here’s what she had to say:

While snowshoeing in Tanglewood (Lincolnville preserve area) this past Saturday, we observed this pictured ice ring in the river and a discussion ensued based on your recent articles on the same,” Henderson wrote. “We wondered, if it is formed by an eddy, why is the eddy in the center and not on the usual river ‘elbows’? Why is it so perfectly round?

“A little farther up the river we were more than excited to see an ice circle in the process of being created by Mother Nature!” she wrote. “Unfortunately, the photo we took of this is not clear, but this is what we observed.

Diann Henderson's diagram of what she saw while watching an ice circle form.

Diann Henderson’s diagram of what she saw while watching an ice circle form.

“An ice circle will form in a flowing river that has a slight drop (more drop and the flowing water would pass over the ice ahead of it,” she wrote. “Water freezing on the sides and in front of the flow cause the moving water to spiral as it reaches the ice covering the river from side to side (i.e.: no passage). It appeared that there was a small circle of ice in the center of the spiral, suggesting that the circle freezes from the inside out.”

Henderson also sketched a diagram to illustrate what she saw. And she playfully left room for another reader’s hypothesis.

“We did see deer tracks as well, so maybe they were chasing their tails?” she wrote.

Next up, I heard from Sherry McLeod of Crawford, who read about the ice circle in Aroostook County and passed along a photo of her own.

Albert McLeod and Paul Hawkins check out an ice circle in Lee on Thanksgiving Day, 1993. (Photo courtesy of Sherry McLeod)

Albert McLeod and Paul Hawkins check out an ice circle in Lee on Thanksgiving Day, 1993. (Photo courtesy of Sherry McLeod)

“On Thanksgiving Day, 1993, my husband, Albert McLeod, brother Paul Hawkins and father Alvah Hawkins were riding the back roads in Lee, hunting, when they came to a stream,” McLeod wrote. “They looked downstream and saw a circle on the ice.”

McLeod said the men described the circle as about 30 feet across, and said she’d love to hear comments from readers on the circle.

Thanks to both women for sharing their photos and stories, and thanks to all the readers who have taken the time to look at past ice circle posts.

 

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John Holyoke

About John Holyoke

John Holyoke has been enjoying himself in Maine's great outdoors since he was a kid. Today, he's the Outdoors editor for the BDN, a job that allows him to meet up with Maine outdoors enthusiasts in their natural habitat. The stories he gathers provide fodder for his columns, and this blog.