Monday, February 11, 2013

Freezing Spray Warning - Blizzard 2013

If you live along a coast or are a boater you are probably familiar with the weather term - freezing spray - which is usually associated with vessels.  When the air temperature is cold and water hits vessels because of the spray from waves, the water freezing on the vessel and can built up to an extent that it can compromise the stability of the vessel.  The warnings are real and if the conditions continue for any length of time, a substantial amount of ice can accumulate. But you may not have thought about the effects it can have on land when high winds and waves combine to carry the ocean spray onto land.  The same ice build up can occur but is usually one sided depending on the direction of the wind.

On February 9 two major storms combined into one, as one storm moved in from the west and the other up the eastern seaboard, culminating in a storm with hurricane characteristics.  The sustained winds and high tides caused much havoc on Grand Manan, shredding tarps at a construction site, destroying a hangar at the airport, raising water levels beyond the normal high tide, bringing drift wood and rocks up onto land, breaking trees limbs and toppling trees, wreaking havoc with the power lines, and leaving places in the face of the nor'easter, like Swallow Tail, coated in frozen salty brine and looking more like the aftermath of an ice storm, rather than a snow storm.

The following photos were taken the next two days, when the weather had cleared to bright sunshine and calmer seas.

John's bench overlooking the Swallow Tail peninsula

Railing on the deck at the Welcome Centre overlooking the Swallow Tail peninsula

Frozen Swallow Tail peninsula.  Freezing spray coated everything from the north and east, bending trees with the weight of the ice.
Frozen, salty stairs and railings.
Bent tree covered in salty ice at the head of the stairs

Ice coating the railing on the foot bridge.

Ice almost completely covering the railing on the foot bridge on the northern side.

Frozen spray on the safety railing at the head of the stairs.  The railing is red.

Frozen spin drift in the Sawpit.

Looking down into the Sawpit, filled with frozen spary and styrofoam from a floating weir that is breaking up from the extreme wave action.

Frozen spray on the mafic dike of the Sawpit.

Trees bending under the weight of the freezing spray.
Trees covered in freezing spray along the foot path.

Frozen bench, trees and trail.

Balls of frozen spray and an ice coated bench.

Fog bell deck covered in ice.

Layers of ice coating the rope hand rail along the foot path.

Heavily weighted rope rail and ice balls created by freezing spray that completely crossed the Swallow Tail peninsula from one side to the other.

Where did the windows go?  Ice covered north side of the keepers house.

Ice covered eastern side of the keepers house.  Note the difference with the southern, almost ice freeze, side.

Ice covered eastern side of the keepers house and deck.
Ice covered rocks and vegetation.

Ice covered slope from freezing spray.

Can you find the tree under the ice?

Heavily ice-coated  spruce trees.

Don't believe the ice is from sea spray?  Seaweed frozen into the ice near the lighthouse.

Fog horn muffled by a thick coating of ice.

Bell house and lighthouse covered in icy rime.  The spray from the waves extended more than halfway up the tower.  A snow plow driver looking down at the lighthouse during the storm said that the tower completely disappeared from view several times as the waves and spray crashed over the point.  

New version of the wooden lobster-trap bench - ice bench!  Good thing the bench is bolted to the rocks or it probably would have ended up elsewhere.
 It is difficult to gauge the amount of snow that fell.  The wind created huge snowbanks or completely moved the snow elsewhere, leaving bare ground.  Many on the island who experienced the Groundhog Gale in 1976 commented that this storm had the same ferocity with sustained high winds for two days, combined with extremely high tides and storm surge.


  1. Great pictures! Glad we all survived Nemo; it was a pretty intense storm system on Grand Manan!

  2. Amazing pics, never seen a foghorn covered in snow and ice before that much either. Thanks for sharing:)