Thousands of giant ice balls blanket Siberian beach

ice balls

A beach in Siberia is covered with giant balls of ice as far as the eye can see.

Although the 18-kilometre stretch of coastline looks like an ambitious art installation, it’s actually an extremely rare weather phenomenon.

According to reports, the massive chunks of ice began to multiply along a beach near the Russian village of Nyda less than two weeks ago. Locals told reporters that it seemed as though the ice balls appeared out of nowhere.

“We have them only in one place. It’s as if someone spilled them,” Ekaterina Chernykh told The Siberian Times. And though they come in all different sizes—some as small as tennis balls, others as large as a basketball—they’re all near-perfect spheres.

Photo by Sergey Bychenkov

Long-time residents told reporters that they’ve never seen anything like it, and some were puzzled by their appearance based on the lack of snow on the ground.

The massive accumulation of ice balls is rare occurrence no matter where you are, but it’s certainly not unheard of. A similar phenomenon occurred on the shores of Lake Michigan in January 2014, after the infamous “polar vortex” moved through the region. In that case, however, the ice wasn’t nearly as white or spherical, causing the ice balls to look a little more like rocks.

According to Global News’ chief meteorologist, Anthony Farnell, there’s a perfectly good explanation for both of these incidents.

Photo by Ekaterina Chernykh

“In this case the water on the lake rose quickly and flooded the beach in a shallow layer of water. Arctic air then partially froze the water turning it into slush,” he told Global News. “As the water receded, small waves, wind and some beach sand helped to form small balls of ice. With each wave the balls collected more ice until some reached the size of basketballs or bigger.”

Whatever the case, residents have been flocking to the site, taking advantage of the once-in-a-lifetime photo-op before the formations disappear.


Think these ice balls are incredible? Check out 5 unbelievable natural phenomena involving ice.