February has been an icicle month, so far, in Boston. We are learning to look up to be sure the buildings we're passing are not about to drop a lethal spear on us.
These on a Back Bay home had formed over a front yard garden so they were not a danger to pedestrians.
But, they did make us ask one another about icicles and how they were forming in very low temperatures. We found that scientists had asked the same question and found an answer.
"Icicles typically form on days when the outdoor air temperature is subfreezing but sunshine warms and melts some snow or ice. As it drips off your roof, a water droplet freezes when it loses its heat to the cold air. An icicle starts with a few frozen droplets. When it reaches a certain size, drops begin to drip along the side of the structure."
Any Boston phenomenon sends Penny off to search the Leslie Jones Collection at the Boston Public Library to see how this photojournalist documented it in his day.
She loves this 1919 photo of icicles on the Brewer Fountain on the Boston Common. We don't know if the fountain was still full and running when there was a sudden cold snap or if rains had filled the basins and wind had whipped the water over the edge. The angle of the icicles certainly seems to indicate that wind had some influence on their formation.
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Words: Penny & Ed Cherubino
Photography: © 2015 Penny & Ed Cherubino