Saturday, 18 February 2012

The big freeze

The lighthouse of Urk
About two weeks ago the big freeze arrived from the East, bringing a bit of snow and a lot of freezing cold weather with it, which almost resulted in an 'Elfstedentocht', a 200 km long skating race past the eleven cities of Fryslân. Unfortunately by the time the ice was finally growing into thick enough ice, thaw set in and the idea had to be put back in the freezer (pun intended). But, I am not going to talk about that today, I will however be talking about what happens after the big thaw sets in.

The flats with the ice pile-ups
Because once it starts to thaw, the ice in rivers and lakes starts to break up. If there is then a westerly or easterly wind, the waves created by said wind will push the ice up onto the shore. Stronger wind equals higher waves equals higher ice pile-ups. It can actually come as high as the dykes and villages on those dykes! Now, I had only ever heard of it happening, but had never actually seen it. So, as I was travelling on the bus home today, I decided to not get off at my stop, but stay on until the next village (Urk) and walk up to the lighthouse and see this pile-up of ice with my own eyes.
Trying to stay upright!
I had been warned by the busdriver that it would be cold and my jellybean, was he right: it was freezing! Even though the temperatures have been way above zero for about a week now! But with the wind coming from the west and coming over ice, my hands soon felt like blocks of ice themselves. It was great to see though. People had come from all over to see them and were scrambling over them and past them and taking photos.

Ice pile-up up close
After only ten minutes however I felt like one of those blocks of ice and decided to go home, where it would be nice and warm!


  1. That was fun for you to see. It has been quite warm here for the time of year. most days have been going up to freezing or better. The night time temps are still always below freezing, however.

  2. I'm a member of and there are a lot of stunning photos of 'kruiend ijs' around Urk over there. It does look very impressive. I've never seen it live.

    Looking forward to your visit ;-)

  3. I've never heard of this - well, there are lots of things I've never heard of . . . ;-/

    I can imagine how cold it was. Lovely photos, though.

  4. That is really interesting. Thanks for sharing this and your pictures.
    Hope your weekend is going well.


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