Winter weather carves out ‘ice shoves’ near Lake Erie

Watch the video above: Winter carves out ice caves at Crystal Beach near Lake Erie. Laura Zilke reports. 

Looking at the caves, it’s hard to believe they are at the southern-most tip of Ontario’s Great Lakes.  The shallow shores of Lake Erie, at Crystal Beach appear to have been pushed into itself creating a shelf of icy ridges.

The so-called “ice shoves” stretch for over a kilometre on the coast of Lake Erie.  The phenomon is rare southern Ontario, says Ontario Science Centre scientist, Donna Francis and are the result of water and ice being pushed together.

Francis explained it happens when water under the frozen lake gets “shoved into the shore.”

“It forms these interesting angulations that we see that are ice caves,” she said.

The caves are attracting explorers in the Niagara area.

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“This has been a long winter,” Niagara resident Linda McKellar said. “This makes it a bit worthwhile.”

And Nikki Passero is amazed that she is even standing on the lake.

“It’s the weirdest thing ever – its so cool,  it’s so beautiful,” she said.

Passero and her friend Ashley McLaren spent time Wednesday climbing some of ridges.

“I can’t even believe its ice,” she said. “It’s smooth, like plastic.”

Some of the “ice shoves” on the Lake Erie coast might actually be two of the ridges, pushed together, Francis said.

“It might be two separate sheets of ice that got pushed up onto the shore at different times, but are meeting at that little bridge at the top,” she said while looking at a photo of the shoves.

In some areas, the caves stand almost 20 feet high, with only small pockets of light peaking through the ice.

“[It is] hard to say exactly how they formed, unless you get the chance to see it at that moment but its definitely something really amazing to see,” Francis said.

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