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Hair Ice: What is it and how does it form?

Hair Ice: What is it and how does it form?

It does look very cool if you ever get the chance to see it up close! It really does look like somebody just left a white wig on the forest floor. Check out this photo!

Credit: Wikipedia-Ronaldhuizer

You can clearly see the razor thin ice fibers out of this decayed log. This is a very rare occurrence, but it can grow in forests and dense wooded areas with a lot of broad-leaf trees. And we need a couple of different weather conditions for its formation.

First, obviously we need the cold. But, this is where it has to be precise. Temperatures have to drop below 32 degrees, but can't fall down so much to where everything is struck by a hard freeze. Temperatures near 30 and the upper 20s will most likely work well. Also, we need some humidity in the air to help the ice grow. Once those two things come together, we only need one more thing: A fungus. There's a specific type of fungus found on certain types of dead tree limbs that gives the hair ice its shape. The fungus itself actually keeps the thin ice hairs from continuing to freeze and grow larger, creating the appearance of soft, fine hair.

Although, areas to our north typically see these conditions more often than we do, so if you're heading up to the U.P. of Michigan this weekend, you have the best chance of seeing it! However, we have overnight lows just below freezing coming up this week. Mix that with rain chances over the weekend, and we could see some right here in Michiana!



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