Niagara Falls not frozen over

On the Journey Beneath the Falls on the Ontario side of Niagara, it’s easy to see the Falls isn’t frozen over

On the Journey Beneath the Falls on the Ontario side of Niagara, it’s easy to see the Falls isn’t frozen over

Major media have reported that Niagara Falls has frozen over.

That’s just not so.

It may look that way since a layer of ice covers everything, but tons of roaring water still flow beneath the ice cover.

Early in January I took an elevator 150 feet down into the bedrock next to the Falls, then walked through tunnels that went about one-third of the way under the main Horseshoe Falls on the Ontario side of the Niagara River. It was cold – just below zero on the surface – but not so bad in the tunnels away from the wind.  You can’t walk out doors on the observations decks in winter as you can in summer. But there are several portals you can look through to see the icy Falls. Its beauty  in winter is simply spectacular.

The Falls carries 20% of the world’s fresh water from Lake Erie and the other Great Lakes down 300 feet between Lake Erie and Lake Ontario. All the Great Lakes are almost frozen over over by now, in late February. But that’s just on the surface.

On very cold days, like this winter’s frequent zero and below, the spray from the Falls turns to tiny ice crystals the moment it hits the air. It sparkles like diamond dust as it’s suspended in the air and sometimes, when the sun is bright, forms into the most amazing ice rainbows. Then it settles over railings, bushes, hats, faces and everything else.

Niagara Falls in winter is definitely worth a visit. Make your own Journey Under the Falls with a ticket from the Niagara Parks purchased at the Table Rock Visitor Center.

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1 Response

  1. JWSmythe says:

    Interesting trivia: Underground, the temperature is more stable. In many areas, 15 feet or so below ground tends to hold the average temperature of the region, with little variation.

    There are factors, like the open tunnels, which bring in colder air. If the tunnels were sealed with doors, you would likely find it to be about 50 °F year round. Some geo-engineered buildings take advantage of this to reduce the need for heating and air conditioning.

    Ground soil and rocks, are much denser than air, and take a lot longer to change temperatures, so it evens out over the span of a year. This is known as “thermal inertia”.

    If your home has a basement with good insulation on the ceiling (1st floor’s floor), you’ve probably observed it yourself.