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Ice coats – but doesn't halt – Niagara Falls

Aaron Harris / Reuters

The U.S. side of the Niagara Falls is pictured in Ontario on Jan. 8.

While frigid air and the polar vortex affected approximately 240 million people in the United States and southern Canada this week, photographs of a partially frozen Niagara Falls caused a flurry on social media.

Recent temperatures in the Niagara Falls area have been cooler than average this year, but ice accumulation on the falls is far from uncommon, said Alan Raymond, digital meteorologist at the Weather Channel.

“It happens every single year,” he said, adding that ice typically forms around the top of the falls and surrounding rocks due to freezing mist.

The photos sparked social media frenzy after some incorrect reports indicated that Niagara Falls was completely frozen solid.

The photos show ice accumulation, but also reveal flowing water. Raymond said ice has never totally halted the falls. 

“That’s never happened in the history of the falls, it has never completely frozen over,” Raymond said, adding that either way, the photographs offered great insight into Niagara Falls in winter. 

Aaron Harris / Reuters

The American Falls at the side of Niagara Falls is pictured in Ontario on Jan. 8.

James Neiss / Niagara Gazette via AP

The frozen mist from Niagara Falls coats the landscape around Prospect Point at Niagara Falls State Park.

Aaron Harris / Reuters

Visitors observe the falls in Niagara Falls, Ontario on Jan. 8.

Aaron Harris / Reuters

The Rainbow Bridge shown in Niagara Falls, Ontario on Jan. 8.