Ice Bells on Spruce Creek

February 28, 2008

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Provided by: Lee Grenci, Department of Meteorology, Penn State University
Summary authors & editors: Lee Grenci

Early on Christmas morning, 2004, ice bells festively appeared on branches and twigs overhanging Spruce Creek about 10 miles (16 km) west of State College, Pennsylvania. The ice bells formed as swollen creek levels fell in concert with temperatures (see the time plots of creek levels and local air temperatures below). Most of the ice bells were typically a few inches tall. Spruce Creek rose rapidly on December 23 from heavy rains associated with a low-pressure system (see the 7:00 a.m., Eastern Standard Time, surface analysis). As the low moved northeast, a strong cold front passed central Pennsylvania. High pressure then built over the region from the west, setting the stage for a cold Christmas Eve night and early Christmas morning. The simultaneous fall in rain-swollen creek levels and air temperatures from the approach and passage of a cold front produced another lot of ice bells on Spruce Creek in early January 2005.

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