Feather Frost in Oregon

My friend Dennis Creel sent me some amazing pictures of a rare phenomenon, “feather frost.” According to Dennis, “David Hampton was out in the brush laying out a harvest unit and took these pictures with his cell phone.  They were near Grand Ronde on Hampton Resources Timberland.”

Take a look:

According to SnowCrystals.com,

“Some of the stranger ice formations you’re likely to find in the woods are called “frost flowers” or “feather frost”.  A typical example looks like a small puff-ball of cotton candy, a few inches across, made up of clusters of thin, curved ice filaments.
Frost flowers usually grows on a piece of water-logged wood.  It’s something of a rare find, meaning that conditions have to be just so before it will form.
Not much has been written on this unusual phenomenon, and to my knowledge it has never been reproduced in a controlled laboratory environment.  It appears that the ice filaments are essentially pushed out from pores in the wood as they freeze.
It’s something of a misnomer to call this frost, by the way, since it freezes from liquid water, not water vapor.”

Thanks to David for making these pictures available, and to Dennis for sending them.


About George Taylor

Climatologist, husband, father (3), grandfather (2)
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4 Responses to Feather Frost in Oregon

  1. Ken Hubbard says:

    Thats really cool George. Are there conditions that must be met before this type of frost would form?

    • All I know is what the referenced Web site shows. Grant Goodge sent me a photo of a similar event, but emerging from soil. He acknowledged that it didn’t look quite as spectacular as the from-a-tree one I displayed.

  2. Your feather frost is more commonly known as Hair Ice in English and Haareis in German. I have a number of photos of such ice on http://my.ilstu.edu/~jrcarter/ice/diurnal/ and have a page focusing on Hair Ice at http://my.ilstu.edu/~jrcarter/ice/diurnal/wood/

    There is a literature about this ice dating from the 19th Century. The climatologist Alfred Wagener wrote about this in 1918. More recently colleagues in Switzerland have written about this and relate it to a fungus. My web pages link to their article and references earlier studies.

    I have not seen Hair Ice because apparently it does not occur in the mid-west. That may relate to species of trees and/or the absence of particular fungi. However, I have received many photos showing such ice.

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