The Day Niagra Falls Froze Over
(The following is excerpted from Dave Thurlow's Weather Notebook broadcast, aired on 3/29/2001.) To hear that, and other Weather Notebook broadcasts, go to The Weather Notebook web site
On March 29, 1848, something incredible happened: Niagara Falls went dry. Early on the 29th, suddenly shifting, gale winds and high waves drove Lake Erie ice rapidly toward the Niagara River. That jammed ice blocks together to form an impenetrable ice dam. By evening, the Niagara River flow had slowed to a trickle.
When local residents awoke the next morning, something felt wrong...indeed, something sounded wrong" There was...silence, an eerie silence. For the only time in recorded history, both of the Niagara's Falls had stopped...well...falling! Thousands of people rushed to the Falls and saw rock and ice with small pools of stilled water. Many descended into the Great Niagara Gorge to explore the never-before-seen basin at the foot of the Falls and retrieved a variety of relics. These included War-of-1812 bayonets, muskets and swords. A squadron of US calvary rode down the river bed enjoying the novel situation.
Some 30 hours later, pounding winds and waters aided by warm air finally breached the ice dam, and flow into the Niagara River resumed. A "low growl" began upstream of the Falls, as a wall of water rushed down the riverbed, and leapt over the Falls, putting the Falls back on an unimpeded course of flowing water.
Thanks to contributing writer Keith Heidorn. The Weather Notebook is a production of the Mount Washington Observeratory. The program is underwritten by Subaru and the National Science Foundation.
In the opening picture, you can see the people who are wandering down into the falls area to experience the unusual opportunity. Here are two more pictures of the same event, the first taken by a professional photographer, and the second taken with a personally owned Kodak.
The same thing happened again in 1911, as shown in the following photo:
Many thanks to Keythe Karpinski for providing this target.