Winter is that magical time of the year when our planet harnesses everything from falling ice knives to the very air itself in a crazy-eyed attempt to murder every last one of you sons of bitches. And this winter, the mad season's expanded its arsenal of frozen water with enough weirdo weather patterns to make a White Walker's head spin.
#7. Lake Michigan Is Spewing Ice Balls
Glen Arbor Artisans
At least we hope that's ice.
If the pictures above are to be believed, there's an amazing chance God is using this entire polar vortex spiel to make himself a giant bowl of lake-flavored Cocoa Puffs, and the shores of Lake Michigan are providing the makings of a nutritious breakfast.
As waves hit the beach, they break off ice sheets from the shore, then roll the chunks back into the lake's icy grip. It's that rolling action that turns the ice into balls, kind of like when you used to roll your boogers into balls before flicking them at someone. Only this is hundreds of ice boogers, and Jack Frost is the one making them.
#6. Snow Rollers Look Like Ghosts Playing in the Snow
"Snow rollers" are snowballs made under very specific circumstances -- without the help of human hands. First, a layer of ice has to form on packed snow so the surface of the ground is slick. Then the weather has to get warm enough so that the next batch of snow is wet and loose, like an orifice in a porno.
Finally, if the wind is just right, it can push that top layer of snow around until dozens of hollow snowballs dot the landscape. (We'd continue the porn metaphor here, but it just gets sad when you talk about people getting pushed around until they're empty on the inside.)
We'd also like to apologize to those of you who mistakenly clicked this article after Googling "porn snowballs."
Instead, let's just say that the result looks like hundreds of mice just gave up on making snowmen.
Or a snow T-1000 slowly getting back together.
Once again, this particular juggling act of cold weather comes out of Michigan, the state so practiced in freezing your dick off that it's trying to be fancy about it out of boredom.
#5. Frost Is Blooming Like Flowers
Imagine looking upon a dead, frost-covered landscape and longing for the warm kiss of spring air and the promise of blooming ground. (Look at you, getting all poetic and shit!) Suddenly, from a distance, you see what appears to be a beautiful blooming white flower. You bend down to pick it up and it crumbles, much like your dreams, into a frigid dust. Congratulations, you just touched a "frost flower."
"Frost cotton candy" was already taken.
Georgia and Oklahoma have both been lucky enough to see frost flowers in recent weeks. There's probably something in the ground there. Specifically, they must have warm plant roots that haven't figured out it's winter yet.
Because the temperature below the surface isn't freezing, the plant keeps on keeping on, sending moisture up the stem, which immediately freezes and expands once it gets above ground. The expansion creates cracks in the plant's stem, and the frozen water pushes out of the plant like curling ribbon. Or parasitic worms ejected from their host. Really, it depends on your outlook.
They double as Rorschachs for Mr. Freeze at Arkham.
#4. Winter Tornadoes
Unfortunately for anyone who loves watching shit fly by at high velocities, the winter months tend to have little to no tornado activity in the United States. Luckily for those maniacs, the Great Lakes region, as we've established, is clearly a place where time and logic do not hold dominion over the cold.
They're laws of nature, not suggestions, asshole.
Those numerous little motherfuckers are very rare winter waterspouts snaking out of Lake Superior like Voldemort launching an attack on Packers fans. Meanwhile, a Chicago photographer tweeted yet another one outside his balcony, just kind of hanging out:
"Sup, I'm a little lost. Can you point me to Kansas?"
The relatively benign funnel cloud has yet to be identified as a winter waterspout, but the only other option would be a "steam devil" (which is a similar cold-air condition and not something you'd find in a Kmart housewares aisle in the 1990s).
#3. A North Dakota River Created a Perfect Ice Circle
This aquatic Lazy Susan appeared before a hunter walking along the Sheyenne River in North Dakota. But unlike most Lazy Susans, it offered no mashed potatoes and totally spun by itself. According to a meteorologist watching the video, the phenomenon was most likely from a combination of dense air and a river eddy, and not evidence that the River Styx is in North Dakota.
#2. Frost Quakes Are the Wintry Version of Earthquakes
Frost quakes, aka cryoseisms, are when water drained into the ground freezes and then explodes as it expands. Not only can you hear the boom, which sounds like thunder, but you can feel the explosion under your feet. So one minute there's not a cloud in the sky and you're out enjoying the arctic chill, the next minute KABLOOM, but underground. And, like some kind of apocalyptic ghost, this earthly thunder shows no seismographic fingerprints because of its proximity to the surface.
University of Wisconsin-Madison
"Did the seismometer catch the frost quake?"
"No, but it looks like everybody in the tri-county area evacuated their bowels in fear."
#1. The Grand Canyon Gets Stoned as Shit
Every listed example so far has clearly been a triumphant display of Mother Nature's ever-formidable cruelty toward mankind, but she does throw us a bone every once and again. Just look at this phenomenon, which happens once a decade on average:
Yes, Grand Canyon National Park recently became the background setting for one of James Cameron's undoubtedly shitty upcoming Avatar sequels when the whole damn thing filled itself with clouds thanks to a "temperature inversion."
This is the result of extra snow and rain in the canyon getting trapped by a sudden high pressure system. The air on top is clear and warmer, while the air closer to the ground is still trying to figure out what to do with all that extra water. So it made fog. Lots and lots of it.
"You're breathing my farts. Enjoy."