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Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Niagara - are the falls really frozen ??

Remember this song from Jayashankar starrer ‘Ore vaanam ore bhoomi’ – ‘malairani munthanai’ sung by Vani Jayaram and Jolly Abraham – lyrics of Kannadasan and music of MS Viswanathan in the background of Niagara falls.

‘Niagara Falls’  is the collective name for three waterfalls that straddle the international border between Canada and the United States; more specifically, between the province of Ontario and the state of New York.  From largest to smallest, the three waterfalls are the Horseshoe Falls, the American Falls and the Bridal Veil Falls. The Horseshoe Falls lie mostly on the Canadian side.   Located on the Niagara River, which drains Lake Erie into Lake Ontario, the combined falls form the highest flow rate of any waterfall in the world, with a vertical drop of more than 165 feet (50 m). Horseshoe Falls is the most powerful waterfall in North America, as measured by vertical height and also by flow rate. Niagara Falls were formed when glaciers receded at the end of the Wisconsin glaciation (the last ice age), and water from the newly formed Great Lakes carved a path.  While not exceptionally high, the Niagara Falls are very wide.

The Niagara Falls are renowned both for their beauty and as a valuable source of hydroelectric power. Managing the balance between recreational, commercial, and industrial uses has been a challenge for the stewards of the falls since the 19th century. Now it is reported in many newspapers including Daily Mail that - Niagara Falls has frozen over as extreme winter weather continues across the East Coast - and it is going to get even colder.

Extreme winter weather has been causing problems for millions across the East Coast, but it has also made for some beautiful sights. Among those beautiful sights is Niagara Falls, which has now frozen over due to temperatures which dropped to 16F on Wednesday. And it looks like the popular tourist destination may stay frozen, as temperatures are expected to drop even lower.  The attention the Falls is receiving is bringing a crowd to view them in their majestic, winter splendor!' said the  communications & community relations manager for the Falls.   Yet another arctic blast is set to strike the central and eastern United States on Wednesday evening, bringing sub-zero temperatures to many parts; then things are going to get even colder.

The cold weather will also bring with it high winds, this time some reaching 40 mph in areas.  Meanwhile, the effects of this weekend's winter weather are still being felt by the 330,000 people without power in Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee.  The storm system left more than a foot of snow in parts of the South, while an accompanying ice storm caused a number of fatal road accidents. All government offices in Washington DC were closed on Tuesday due to the dangerous blend of snow and ice that has made travel increasingly difficult.  Meanwhile, Strawberry Plains, Tennessee, saw a ¾-inch coating of ice, according to NBC.  In Philadelphia, a medical center is set to be demolished as after a fire broke out the water used to put out the blaze has caused thick ice to form all over the structure.

Even as we read this a report in Firstpost of 25.2.15 states the icy spectacle, brought on by weeks of severe cold, has drawn a steady flow of intrepid tourists. But are the Falls really frozen? Not exactly.  It states that the water never actually stops flowing underneath. That is no accident: the Niagara River is an important source of hydropower, so a long ice boom made of steel catches any icebergs, while ice cutters work around the clock to prevent the Falls from jamming up.  If it's cold enough for long enough, an ice bridge forms along the river, connecting the US and Canada. Day-trippers once enjoyed sledding and drinking on the ice bridge until 1912, when it broke up and three people died — a Canadian couple who became stranded on a piece of ice and an American teenager who tried to save them. Their story is the subject of an online graphic novel, Hecock, named for the Cleveland teen who died. Walking anywhere on the ice has been strictly banned ever since.

Interesting indeed
With regards – S. Sampathkumar

18th Feb 2015.

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