ORLEANS — Ahead of a massive nor’easter’s expected arrival in New England later this week, there was another wintery sight rolling onto a Cape Cod beach Thursday morning: Slurpee-like waves.
Darius Aniunas captured a video of “waves frozen into slush” on Skaket Beach in Orleans.
Slushy waves or “Slurpee waves” have become somewhat of a local wintertime phenomenon around New England in the past several years. They were famously spotted in Nantucket in 2015 and more recently in Eastham last January.
WBZ-TV executive weather producer Terry Eliasen explained last year that exceptionally cold air needs to be in place for frozen waves to form.
“Seawater freezes at 28.4 degrees, not 32 degrees, due to the salt content. As the ocean water begins to freeze, you get needle-like ice crystals called “frazil” to form in the water. The salt, of course, doesn’t freeze and begins to separate from the water and ice crystals,” Eliasen said.
“The slushy look comes from the fact that the ocean is in constant motion (unlike a lake or pond). The frazil (ice crystals) begin to collide and coalesce and meld into a slushy appearance,” he adds. “Of course, if the temperatures remain frigid for a long period of time, you will start to form ice chunks and sheets, something even rarer in our area.”
Bundle up and check out the slushy waves while you can – the forecast calls for a warmup later next week.