Pancake Ice is formed when temperatures hover right around zero degrees with at least moderate wave activity. The sections themselves can range from a few inches to several feet in diameter, with fairly even depth and slightly raised rims. The rim is built up with each compression of wave, being drawn together in each trough. Conditions in which pancake ice occur most are when there is a thin film of slush on the top of agitated water (sometimes called grease ice) that freezes into larger sections, or when a more solid base of ice breaks up into pieces. In high school we’d all pack into my rusted out ’95 Neon to go check out the ice on Lake Michigan. It almost always ended in very irresponsibly running across these churning pancakes just off shore. And more than once somebody rode home with a frozen pant-leg.


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2 Responses to PANCAKE ICE

  1. CC January 18, 2011 at 10:22 am #

    I, too, have found lots of what appears to be pancake ice in Lake Michigan, but they are clearly not solid enough to stand on. One that I saw appeared to be filled in by sand, making me wonder about how it formed.


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