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Posted at 1:00 PM ET, 04/23/2009

Photos: Early Spring at Niagara Falls, New York

By Ian Livingston

* Full Forecast: Here Comes Some Heat | NWS Media Day *

A strange object (lower right) points toward the falls and stands its ground.

I found myself in Buffalo for Easter this year and was given the chance to visit -- a first for me -- Niagara Falls. The fact that it was chilly for April, kind of the wrong time of day for photos, and early enough in the season that many of the attractions were closed deterred me not. I noticed the mist several miles out on the drive in. When we got there, I saw something strange within it.

Keep reading for more photos and to find out what that strange thing was.

The American Falls and Bridal Veil Falls are seen in the foreground with Canada's Horseshoe Falls in back and Niagara Falls, Canada buildings on right.

Niagara Falls State Park is the oldest state park in the United States and conveniently located next to the Niagara River and Niagara Falls. Niagara Falls is made up of three main sections: the American Falls, Bridal Veil Falls and Horseshoe Falls. While all three are at least partially viewable from the U.S. side, the best views (depending on mist) are often found on the Canadian side.

Canada's Horshoe Falls as seen from Terrapin Point, New York. The falls is largely obscured by mist, some say this has increased since Canada built large buildings right near the falls.

So, back to the question at hand: What was it that I was looking at in the water that day?

An eroded western U.S. sandstone monolith shipped east?

The image above does not really do justice in terms of size, primarily because there is no easily recognizable point of reference for scale. If you have not been there, you will have to trust me that the rocks at bottom are very large and immovable boulders at the base of the falls. The coloring of the mysterious mist object alone was enough to fool, at least temporarily.

One of the attractions open (on a limited basis) was the Cave of the Winds elevator that brings folks to the base of Bridal Veil Falls. To get there, one must cross the river and head over to Goat Island (home of Terrapin Point -- pictured above). The river was roaring steadily with spring runoff...

Rapids furiously flow toward the American Falls in the background while gulls enjoy a spring feast.

After descending 175 feet through the rock, I was faced with a similar object to the one I saw at the American Falls, but this time it was very apparent what it was. Ice! The smaller (and cleaner) version at Bridal Veil Falls still stood a good 20-25+ feet in height.

Bridal Veil Falls and the mysterious object's cousin.

Sculpted ice at the base of Bridal Veil Falls.

Apparently, the coldest winters can see huge ice mounds form -- particularly on the American side, thanks to the large boulders at the base that the Canadian side lacks. Locals claimed this winter was "one of the worst" in 50 years. While I am not sure if that's a valid claim, the area did receive over 100" of snow this winter, and averaged 1.7 degrees below normal for meteorological winter. Maybe that helps explain the remaining April mounds?

Rainbows, like this one, are a common appearance in the mist of Niagara Falls.

I will be sure to visit again to get a warm-season experience, and to see the stunning view from the Canadian side.

By Ian Livingston  | April 23, 2009; 1:00 PM ET
Categories:  Photography  
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Next: PM Update: Chilly Night, Then Warm and Warmer


Nice photos Ian!

Posted by: Kevin-CapitalWeatherGang | April 23, 2009 7:28 PM | Report abuse

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