National Geographic News
The U.S. side of the Niagara Falls is pictured in Ontario, January 8, 2014.

The U.S. side of the Niagara Falls covered in ice on Wednesday.

PHOTOGRAPH BY AARON HARRIS, REUTERS  

Angie McPherson

National Geographic

Published January 10, 2014

Niagara Falls looks stunning covered in ice. Onlookers in Ontario and New York are marveling at the site of the frozen falls, spreading pictures widely across the social media landscape.

But while the photographs look beautiful, the ice-laden waterfall is not all that surprising, at least according to one meteorologist.

"The falls aren't frozen over," says John Rozbicki, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service. "There might be some ice on it, but the water is going to continue to flow underneath."

According to Rozbicki, Niagara Falls has too much water to completely freeze over. But it has on several occasions formed an ice bridge over the lake, which is located beneath the waterfalls.

Ice Bridge Tragedy

Historically, visitors were allowed to walk across these ice bridges, until one unexpectedly separated in 1912 and killed three people, according to the local NBC affiliate, WGRZ.

Ice bridges are uncommon, and—even with the polar vortex—it was not cold enough to create a bridge this week. (See also: "Science Behind 3 Viral Polar Vortex Videos: Instant Snow, Ice Fog, Frozen Bubbles.")

But despite disappointing fans of ice bridges, the recent bout of cold weather has produced a stunning array of winter photographs. Here are some of the best ones from social media users:

Captured a great photo of Niagara Falls? We invite you to send it in to our Your Shot community.

Follow Angie McPherson on Twitter.

39 comments
Irfan Khan
Irfan Khan

SubhanAllah, wonders of Allah are really wonderful

Tân Lê
Tân Lê

Vừa đẹp vừa sợ !!!

Kyle Ness
Kyle Ness

It's not truly frozen,  it's only mist collecting and freezing on  rocks, tree's in the area.   It is not at all frozen where the water is flowing.

Alexander Kazanoff
Alexander Kazanoff

Big thanks to canadians visas officers  who give me rejection to visit it.

David Steele
David Steele

 Ugh!!!!!  


I can't believe how wrong so many in the media are getting this.  The falls are NOT NOT NOT frozen over nor have they been in modern history.  The ice you think you are seeing is just the white water flowing over the edge.  The ice you actually see is ice clinging to the cliff face and trees.  This ice builds up every winter from the mist that rises from the falling water which then freezes on solid objects.  There are 3 water falls and the water is running over all three in the open air not under any ice layers.  In the winter more water is diverted from the Falls into energy generation. THis means much less water flows over the cliff so a larger area of cliff face is exposed and able to freeze.


The "ice bridge"  you are talking about IS NOT NOT NOT at the top of the falls.  It is at the bottom of the falls in the gorge .  The mist combined with ice flows tumbling over the falls builds up to a mini glacier which covers most of the water surface at the bottom of the falls.  This is what they call the "ice bridge"  It is thick and craggy and can cross the entire river surface but is highly unstable except in the coldest winters.


I really am disappointed that National Geographic of all publications got this wrong.

Senad Kolina
Senad Kolina

not completely frozen though, maybe a thick layer, but under its flowing of course, never the less beautiful..

Susie Ryan
Susie Ryan

what mother nature can make beautiful

Héctor Montes De Oca Flores
Héctor Montes De Oca Flores


Are Frozen Views of Niagara Falls Unusual?Stunning photos of a frozen Niagara Falls are cascading across the Internet, but experts say that the winter phenomena is surprisingly common.

Captured a great photo of Niagara Falls? We invite you to send it in to our Your Shot community. 

Alicia Flores
Alicia Flores

Breathtaking! so beautiful. What God has created!! is beyond beautiful.

Fred C.
Fred C.

winter photos are so hard to shoot last time between my frozen fingers and my half frozen camera I took a hand full of pics and I was just glad to get out of the cold.

Sarah Kephart
Sarah Kephart

This is right down Jason Balog's alley. Every one should watch the documentary, "Chasing Ice."

R. Ashley
R. Ashley

All are quite beautiful and stunning.

Tracey Davidson
Tracey Davidson

amazing photos, hard to believe something so powerful could freeze.

froilan c.
froilan c.

Its Gods power to make thing impossible to possible.

Mi soon Lee
Mi soon Lee

Wow, it is beautiful. I went there several years ago, and it was really amazing to see it. I can't believe it was possible that this big fall can turn into ice.

Angie McPherson
Angie McPherson

@David Steele Hello David, thank you for reading this post and commenting. It's very important to me that we provide accurate information for readers across the world.

The main argument in this article is that Niagara Falls doesn't freeze over. The photos are of a common occurrence. I was able to find an expert meteorologist to clarify to readers that the waterfalls don't freeze. My sincerest apologies if I made it unclear that the ice bridges are over the lake at the bottom. I appreciate the time you took to point this out. Thank you again for clarifying and have a great weekend. 

Share

Feed the World

See blogs, stories, photos, and news »

Latest From Nat Geo

See more photos »