Ever heard of an ice star? - WNEM TV 5

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Ever heard of an ice star?

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Frozen Lake. Frozen Lake.
Snow covered frozen lake. Snow covered frozen lake.
Snow melt on frozen lake. Snow melt on frozen lake.
Cracks and holes in ice caused by melted water on top of ice. Cracks and holes in ice caused by melted water on top of ice.
(Source: WNEM) (Source: WNEM)
SAGINAW, MI (WNEM) -

A viewer sent a photo to our Facebook page yesterday of what she believed was where lightning struck an ice covered lake in Weidman.  While the picture is very reminiscent of lightning striking the ground, the hole was actually caused by a different phenomenon.   What was seen in Weidman is known as an ice star because of its unique shape.

Let’s say the lake froze over in the winter. (First Image)

Then one day it snows and covers the ice in snow. (Second Image)

Now warmer temperatures begin to melt some of the snow that is on top of the ice.  The melted snow (or water) needs to go somewhere and it will find the path of least resistance.  Now we have to imagine that a hole or a crack has formed in the ice. (Third Image)

Eventually, water will manage to find that open spot in the ice and drain into the lake.

Since the water is looking for the easiest path to drain into the lake, over time it will manage to carve out channels in the ice and snow that surround the open hole in the ice.  These channels form the cracks that you see surrounding the open hole in the ice. (Fourth Image)

A link to the Facebook post can be found here.

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