Tuesday, February 26th 2019, 5:44 pm - The chunks of ice, some as big as cars, could stick around until late spring or early summer
Forget the Falls, the Niagara Region has a new tourist attraction and it's here for a limited time only.
Towering piles of ice tossed over barriers and walls by Sunday's waves and winds gusting over 100 km/h are drawing the curious and selfie-seekers alike to Fort Erie, Ont.
"It just kept flowing over. In some places the ice is 10, 20, 30-feet high," said David Adames with the Niagara Parks Commission. The ice wall has prompted the closure of a portion of the Niagara Parkway.
Videos showing hunks and chunks of ice seeming to climb over each other exploded across social media during Sunday's windstorm, with some commenting the movement almost made it look as though the frozen water was alive or even spawning some sort of ice monster.
A family walks near a massive build up of ice that was pushed onto the shore of Mather Park in Fort Erie, Ont., Monday, February 25, 2019. A windstorm Sunday broke an ice boom in Lake Erie and allowed the ice, which was floating on the water at the mouth of the Niagara River, to shove over the retaining wall and onto the shore and the roadway above. (Tara Walton/Canadian Press)
What the video doesn't show, says Adames, is just how massive some of these blocks are.
"One staff member described some pieces as large as a car," he said. "These are very large pieces of ice."
STAY BACK FOR YOUR OWN SAFETY
So while the frosty spectacle has awed locals and visitors alike, the parks commission is asking people to keep their distance so they don't get hurt.
"We did see at least one or two individuals trying to climb the ice," said Adames.
"It's good to watch from afar and take pictures. But we do not want anyone risking climbing on the ice, it's very much moving."
That movement has already caused miniature avalanches from the icy mountains, sending big blocks sliding and skittering across sidewalks.
TRAFFIC REROUTED AROUND ICE CHUNKS
Traffic on the south Niagara Parkway, particularly near the Mather Arch in town, is being re-routed as a portion of the road is closed between Central Avenue and Queen Street.
Adames says the ice could stick around until the late spring or early summer. (Tara Walton/Canadian Press)
Adames said so far the ice stayed off the parkway, but the commission isn't taking chances.
"You never know. If water shifts or ice starts to shift, we want to take all precautions."
PILES COULD BE HERE UNTIL SUMMER
With more snow in the forecast, and weeks of cold weather still ahead, staff are weighing their options for ways to remove the frigid rubble.
Safety for work crews is top of mind, said Adames, so it may turn out there's nothing they can do.
In that case, Adames said the commission will leave the cleanup to Mother Nature, meaning the icy attraction could be sticking around until it melts — and that could take months.
"Staff who work in Old Fort Erie tell me in late May early June it can still be significantly cooler down there because of the water temperature off Lake Erie, so the ice could stay there quite a while."