Friday, February 28, 2014

Icy Falls Redux

Icy Glaze, Banks of Snoqualmie River, Washington

I realize it was only a couple months ago that I wrote about photographing frozen waterfalls without actually showing the waterfall in the image. Shortly after I posted that, Washington state was hit with another week-long deep freeze, and I got the opportunity to create images like that again.

I'm writing this follow-up because I managed to create an image that demonstrates how waterfalls can generate ice a great distance away from the falls itself.

The image here is of the Snoqualmie River, several hundred feet downstream from Snoqualmie Falls. The river plunges 268 feet (82 meters) at Snoqualmie Falls, a bigger drop than Niagra Falls. Even when the temperatures are into the mid-teens Fahrenheit, the waterfall doesn't freeze completely. Surrounded by ice, there's always a channel of water that makes that dramatic plunge and some of the water becomes airborne again as mist after it smacks the base.

The water that follows essentially creates wind that blows that mist downstream, and it can travel several hundred yards before finally hitting the ground yet again.

By this time, however, the mist has been exposed to subfreezing temperatures and is turning to ice in mid-air. When it hits the super-cooled ground, it freezes on contact. If these conditions exist for a few days, ice freezes on top of existing ice, which is then covered by even more ice.

What you see in this image is the rocks and logs at the edge of the Snoqualmie River encased in thick ice. But what I really like about this image is that you also see a cloud of frozen mist approaching, ready to make that glaze even thicker.

I've photographed Snoqualmie Falls in its icy glory several times, but I think this image, which shows the natural mechanism that creates the spectacle, may be one of my favorites.

(Follow Kevin Ebi's photography on Facebook or Twitter.)

Snoqualmie River in Winter, Snoqualmie Washington

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