Freezing weather has brought a surprising new feature to the town of Westbrook in Maine. An enormous circle of ice has formed in the Presumpscot river in the middle of the town.
The disc, estimated at 90 metres in diameter, is slowly rotating anti-clockwise like a frozen carousel. A video posted on Twitter shows a few ducks enjoying the ride.
Tina Radel, marketing and communications director at the mayor’s office, used the city’s drone to take aerial shots of the disc. She first learned of the disc on Monday, but a local birdwatcher told her it has been building up for about three weeks.
“It’s been bringing a lot of people to our downtown area,” says Radel. According to the Press Herald, in neighbouring Portland, the scene “had Westbrook buzzing almost as much as when city police spotted a giant snake eating a beaver in roughly the same location in June 2016.”
The disc is thought to result from ice forming in an eddy in the shallow water on the north side of the river. As the rotating disc grinds against the shore, it smooths the edge, maintaining the regular circular shape.
One or two ice discs are reported in the US each year, but most are around a tenth of the diameter of Westbrook’s. An illustration of a 25-foot “revolving ice cake” in the Mianus river, New York, was published in Scientific American in 1895.
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