A rare phenomenon that produces icy circles in the water, known as ice pancakes, appeared this week in Lake Ontario, just west of Toronto.
The ice cream pancakes were spotted and photographed in RK McMillan Park in Mississauga on Jan. 13, Mississauga resident Jerry Bakker tells blogTO.
He posted the photos to a Facebook group of communities south of Mississauga and says they were taken where Cooksville Creek empties into Lake Ontario.
“It’s the first time I’ve seen ice forming in these forms,” he says.
Ice pancakes, also known as ice pans, form when temperatures swing over a wide range, according to The Weather Network. The deep frosts and then milder temperatures we have seen in the GTA in recent weeks have likely produced the ideal conditions.
Normally, ice pancakes occur in late fall or early spring. As the temperature cools, the moving waters of the river cannot fully resist freezing, and the clusters begin to freeze into larger flat patches, notes The Weather Network.
ice cream pancakes pic.twitter.com/uQIUOvNKkK
— Rudy Limeback (@rudydotca) January 14, 2022
Although considered a rare phenomenon, ice cream pancakes were also spotted last winter at Kew Balmy Beach in Toronto.
Last year, Weather Network meteorologist and storm chaser Mark Robinson told blogTO that the unique ice discs form in slightly choppy water and when it’s too mild for the water to freeze completely.
“You need perfect weather conditions to produce it – temperatures need to be just below zero and you just need a bit of wave action. Too many waves and it’ll shred it, too small and it’ll just form an ice sheet,” Robinson said.
Pans are more often seen in seawater such as in the Arctic or Antarctica, although they can occur on the Great Lakes.