Winter is upon us, and by God, is it terrible. In some parts of the country, temperatures dipped below freezing on Christmas — and it hasn't risen above that since. With the frigid cold, strong winds, and a so-called bomb cyclone set to barrel across the East Coast, there's one particular sight way up by the U.S.-Canada border that's a nice reminder of how magical winter can be: Niagara Falls has frozen over, and the photos of it are absolutely breathtaking.
The lush green flora framing the massive waterfall has turned a frigid white, blanketed by ice. The tall, barren trees surrounding the falls are covered in snow. The water is still flowing, though, so it's not technically entirely frozen over, though it is ice cold. If it sounds like a scene out of a book, that's because it does look like that; you could say the throng of tourists still flocking to the winter wonderland that Niagara Falls has turned into — and their puffy winter coats — are the only details in these photos that ground it in reality.
Those brave enough to weather this bitter cold to visit the falls were greeted by the jaw-dropping sight, which looks like it's straight out of Game of Thrones (for those not inclined to look it up, parts of the show are set in perpetually snowy places where its characters wear nothing but giant fur coats and eat stew).
While extraordinary, Niagara Falls getting blanketed in ice and snow isn't rare. It's happened over the years when the temperature drops dramatically, and the average temperature of the falls in January is between 16 to 32 degrees.
In the past, if the ice at the base of the falls got thick enough, people walked over what was called the ice bridge to get to Canada or set up concession stands across it. But The Washington Post reported that in 1912, after a big chunk of ice fell onto the bridge and cracked it, and three people fell into the water and died, authorities banned people from crossing the ice bridge.
The water from the three massive falls, however, continue to flow despite everything else covered in ice. It would take a whole lot of cold to freeze the 757,5000 gallons of water that flows over the the Horseshoe Falls, the American Falls, and the Bridal Veil Falls every second. According to Snopes, however, there was only one instance in March 1848 when it was so cold that the water itself actually froze over, as reported by the Buffalo Express.
And Niagara Falls isn't the only place where this phenomenon happens. There are waterfalls that actually do freeze over in different parts of the world; closer to home there are falls in the Poconos where that happens, for example. In Minneapolis last January, a frozen waterfall shattered and injured a woman.
While you may never see the water at the Niagara Falls freeze over like that in your lifetime, that it's covered in ice and snow right now might be stunning enough of a sight. According to the National Weather Service, the temperatures over the next few days in New York will be somewhere between a high of 5 degrees and a low of -2. With the bomb cyclone heading this way and predictions for the rest of the winter in this area remaining ice cold, the Niagara Falls will probably stay a winter wonderland for a bit.