Bizarre ice balls wash up on the shores of Lake Michigan

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We here at Cottage Life have shown you some pretty impressive ice phenomena this winter, including mysterious rime ice, and crystal-clear lakes.

And here’s another bizarre natural formation to add to that list: ice balls. Photographer Ken Scott was strolling along the shore of Lake Michigan when he discovered these strange, round chunks of ice washed up on the beach. Like discarded weapons from a snowball fight between giants, the spheres littered the shore, puzzling the locals. The ice balls (yes, that is their official weather terminology) are formed when chunks of ice tumble in waves, smoothing the edges and creating their distinct round shape.

The ice balls can grow much bigger than this, becoming ice boulders. This only occurs in very specific weather conditions, including a temperature between 24 and 30 degrees, accompanied by brisk winds.

Since Ken’s discovery, the ice balls have also appeared in nearby Traverse City. The Weather Channel also has records for ice balls appearing last year in Good Harbor Bay, Michigan.

Of course, you’re not guaranteed to enjoy an ice-ball viewing if you head to Michigan to witness this phenomenon for yourself. But then again, weren’t you looking for an excuse to go to the lake?