People couldn’t believe the photos – houses covered completely in ice as if they had been abandoned centuries ago in some frozen, Arctic outpost.
Then they heard it was in Buffalo – and many people just thought “yep, that’s Buffalo for ya.”
Known for its epic snowstorms and the heartiness of its residents, no one in the area was quite ready for this.
A meteorologist from Buffalo’s WGRZ-TV explained the phenomenon that caused the “ice houses” to Bored Panda. First, there was a blizzard and lakeshore flood warning. Then, 1-2 days later there was a winter storm.
“This storm brought gale-force winds and heavy snow which continued on and off for two days…This allowed waves to crash onshore (the waves were 10-to-14 feet high). Some waves even reached 18 feet. So, these ice homes developed as lake water continuously crashed on shore, carried by winds gusting up to 55 mph with temperatures well below freezing, allowing for ice to develop and amass along the shoreline.”
Technically, these ice houses are in a suburb of the city called Hamburg which sits along Lake Erie.
Because the lake was not entirely frozen over, the houses on the lakeshore were pelted with 48 straight hours of gale-force winds that drove water into the air and onto the houses where it froze.
The storm was so strong that one resident told WGRZ-TV that his neighbor’s enclosed hot tub blew all the way across the street.
Ed Mis’ home was encased in roughly 3 feet of ice – his backyard saw 12 feet. OF ICE.
It’s one thing when it’s snow, but ice can’t be shoveled – and it’s so heavy that trying to chisel it off could take parts of the house with it.
Buffalo and its suburbs have seen ice storms before that have downed trees and power lines because they simply could not stand under the weight of the ice.
But houses are different. Roofs can cave in, pipes can freeze – that kind of damage can ruin a structure – a home.
“It looks fake, it looks unreal,” Mis told CNN of his home. “It’s dark on the inside of my house. It can be a little eerie, a little frightening.”
Another risk? Gawkers who came to see the houses after they name national news.
“The amount of thickness that was there.. I’ve never seen three feet of ice on a home ever. And neither have some of the neighbors who have lived there for 80 years,” Mis said. “Stay off, use common sense and be respectful.”
Trespassers who disturb the ice can force it to break loose and large chunks could easily cause serious casualties. Luckily, Hamburg residents got that under control as well.
But it’s not over yet. Over the last week, the ice has been melting.
Structural collapse was always a possibility, but the residents were relatively lucky. However, most are now dealing with a huge influx of melting water seeping right into their homes.
“It looks like a dirty burnt marshmallow at the moment. Looks like it’s been in a fire for a long time,” said Mis.
Mis’ home was spared water damage, but his neighbors were not.
“There’s several neighbors that have water in their home, leaking through their roof and rugs getting ripped up and possible floors and structures and things like that which will need to be replaced. It’s sad,” he said.
One thing is for sure, people who live in Western New York are a hearty bunch – and proud of it – but they don’t want to see a repeat of this again, no matter how beautiful it looked for a moment.
Be sure to scroll down below to see live footage from the scene shortly after the houses were encased in ice.
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