It’s so cold, the ocean is freezing over! No, not really. But parts of it are, especially shallower areas and the top layer of the water near the beaches of Nantucket. This phenomena hasn’t been seen in many years since, well, it hasn’t been this cold in many years. But the prolonged record breaking cold air which settled over the Northeast US over the past 30 days has brought some incredible sights. The Hudson River has large masses of ice floating down it, and now the beaches of Nantucket have “slushy waves” crashing onto the shore.
These waves are the same as any other ocean wave, except for the fact that the surface of the ocean is covered with slushy ice. The top layer of the ocean waters are very close to freezing over — but the temperature of the water isn’t quite supportive of that especially given continued water movement and the waters depth. So what you get is a layer of slush and pockets of icy water on the top, creating an amazing scene as the waves crash ashore. These are known in the area as “slushy” or “slurpee” waves.
Johnathan Nimerfroh, a local photographer in Nantucket, took his camera out to the area beaches to capture the scene and brought some incredible photos to the internet. We’ve attached some of them below, but we encourage you to check out this article from Stay Wild Magazine which highlights the waves and features many more amazing pictures.
These waves won’t stick around too long — as the pattern warms up and ocean upwells and downwells, the slurpee waves will quickly become a thing of the past. But for now, they’re just another amazing visual to remind us of just how cold it really has been.