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Frost flowers, rabbit frost? What’s the deal with it?!


If you're an avid outdoorsy-type, this may be something you see a lot in the fall and early winter. (Especially following warmer weather...)

Sunday featured a day-time high of 59°. 15-20° warmer than average. ABC 17 promised you that wouldn't last and quickly following a warm morning Monday, temperatures quickly dropped throughout the day. The gusty winds didn't help.

Wind chills were already in the single digits by 9:00pm on Monday night. Brr...

When we woke up Tuesday morning, temperatures were around 20° area-wide. A viewer sent in photos from Tuesday showing the product of the sharp temperature drop.

Frost flowers, rabbit frost, ice ribbons... several names for the same thing. This action typically happens in long-stemmed plants and is forced out by moisture/sap in the plant freezing. Since water expands when it freezes, it's strong enough to break through the "skin" of the plant.

Similar to squeezing out a tube of toothpaste, the freezing moisture forces the ice to slip out in very thin layers, sometimes like strands of hair. This give the ice the look of cotton candy or like Styrofoam.

If you were to try and pick up this frost, it would be light and airy, before very quickly melting in your hands.

The best conditions for frost flowers to form are in shaded conditions, around sunrise.

You can share cool photos like these whenever you want! Just visit the share page on our website, or send them through the ABC 17 StormTrack Weather App which can be downloaded for free!

Article Topic Follows: Weather

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Luke Victor

Luke Victor gives forecasts on ABC 17 News broadcasts and reports on weather stories on air and online, giving viewers and readers a deeper look at what causes different types of weather.


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