Ice pancakes, a rare phenomenon that creates icy circles in the water, appeared in Lake Ontario, just west of Toronto. Ice pancakes were spotted at Winnipeg Beach in Manitoba in November 2021.
According to The Weather Network, ice pancakes, also known as ice pans, form when temperatures swing widely. The deep freezes followed by milder temperatures in the GTA over the last few weeks likely created ideal conditions. Pancake ice is a type of sea ice that consists of round pieces of ice with diameters ranging from 30 centimeters (12 in) to 3 meters (9.8 ft) and thicknesses ranging from 10 centimeters (3.9 in) depending on local conditions. It is caused by wave action on slush or ice rind.
Ice pancakes are typically seen in the late fall or early spring. As the temperature drops, the river’s moving waters can’t keep up, and clusters begin to freeze into larger flat plates, according to The Weather Network.
The pans are more common in seawater, such as the Arctic or Antarctic, but they can also be found in the Great Lakes.
This hypnotic phenomenon is a strange and fascinating sight, but it’s not all that uncommon. All winter long, keen observers across the country can spot these satisfying circles of ice.