Sometimes the sequel is better than the original. During this week’s arctic intrusion , Great Falls was in a much more frozen and snow-covered state than in the first polar vortex event two weeks earlier.
I made the trip to Great Falls early Wednesday morning to photograph the falls after our mini-snowstorm Tuesday night. I thought the snow and ice combination would make for a nice winter scene.
I discovered significantly more ice covered and even buried the river rocks than during my polar vortex ice shoot January 9. Small areas of the river and falls appeared to be frozen solid. In addition, a fresh coat of snow painted the landscape.
The temperature on my car thermometer read 9 degrees while driving to Great Falls for both photo shoots, January 9 and January 29. That was a bit of a coincidence. By Washington standards, 9 degrees is very cold for a photo shoot.
There was wind, too. On Wednesday morning, a strong northwest wind blew down the river. Back on January 9 it was calm. Thus, it was much more uncomfortable to shoot Great Falls this past Wednesday, with the brisk, Arctic wind blowing across the outlook platforms that line the edge of the Potomac River below the Great Falls. Brrrr…
I noticed the river “steamed” a lot during the first photo shoot on January 9 but there was no river mist or “steam” Wednesday morning. I think the river water has cooled since January 9 and the air Wednesday morning was extremely dry. Also, add in Wednesday’s windy conditions to the overall weather equation and I think all of those factors led to a non-steaming river falls.
Below are more photos of Great Falls taken early Wednesday morning. The ice build-up on Great Falls to this extent occurs only a few times a decade.
The ice probably won’t last long, however. After our next thaw or rainstorm, Great Falls will revert back to its more normal, ice-free winter state.
Check out Great Falls this weekend. It should still be fairly ice-coated. It’s a unique scene.