Niagara Falls has frozen amid a polar vortex that left the Midwest buried under snow and ice. Although the weather is not ideal, tourists are still flocking to the iconic landmark because the ice surrounding the falls is an unusual and beautiful sight.
A polar vortex is caused by slowing of the jet stream. In its usual position, the stream prevents arctic air from traveling south. However, as the jet stream slows down, its path is altered. Within the last week, arctic air moved into the Midwest United States, bringing dangerously low temperatures and wind chill factors.
As a result, much of the region is now covered in ice, and Niagara Falls is no exception. Although water is still flowing through portions of the falls, much of the surrounding landscape is frozen. The slower water is covered in a sheet of ice and huge icicles frame the falls.
Niagara Falls consists of three waterfalls, which are located between the United States and Canada along the Niagara River. The falls include the American Falls, Bridal Veil Falls, and Canadian Falls. Although subzero temperatures have frozen portions of the falls, they have never completely stopped.
During the coldest winters, deep freezes cause an "ice bridge" to form across the river. In the late 1800s and early 1900s, tourists were allowed to walk along the ice bridge. However, in 1912, three tourists lost their lives when the ice bridge collapsed, and tourists are no longer permitted to walk across the ice.
Niagara Falls Live reports the total length of the falls is 1060 feet, and the highest fall is 176 feet. An estimated 150,000 gallons of water crosses the falls every second. Although the volume may be impeded by the ice, the water is currently flowing.
Peak tourist season is usually between June and August. However, many tourists enjoy viewing and photographing Niagara Falls in the winter months, when one of nature's magnificent spectacles can be seen in all of its frozen glory.
Sideshow of the frozen falls: Here