Icicles Through a Window

March 06, 2005

Bathroomwindow copy

Provided by: Heather Renyck, Milford High School, NH
Summary authors & editors: Heather Renyck; Jim Foster

The curious photo above was captured on January 29, 2005 from Milford, New Hamsphire. An eerie forest scene in low light? Not quite. This photo actually shows an array of icicles as seen through a bathroom window after a hot shower. The combination of condensation on the window, a steamy bathroom, and the back-lighted icicles, was responsible for this fascinating composition. Melting snow dripping down from a roof, a sill or along drain spouts can form impressive sabres of ice, especially when subjected to daily cycles of thaw and freeze. It seems that when icicles are attached to structures other than a large volume of ice, they're more prone to break apart before reaching the prodigious lengths shown above -- they basically fail because of gravity (too heavy to be supported) or when melting is complete. In general, homes having inadequate insulation or ventilation are more conducive to the formation of icicles.

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