Hoar Frost

Wild Winter Phenomena

winter phenomena

As the snow sets in and icy winds prevail, we couldn’t help but hunt for a selection of wonderful winter phenomena. Check out our Pinterest board to gaze at wintery landscapes, giant icicles and frosty happenings from around the world.

Although we won’t, unfortunately, come across an ice cave or volcanic ice tower in the UK, there are many things close to home you can find if you look hard enough. Wintery temperatures can turn most objects into something of beauty when covered in sparkling frost or glistening snow. Here are some wonderful winter phenomena to watch out for.

Aurora Borealis

The best place to witness nature’s very own magical performance is Scotland. The northern isles around the Caithness coast and Orkney Isles are key spots to watch this captivating display – often appearing when light pollution is low and the conditions are just right. You can sign up to the Aurora Watch UK which notifies you when auroral activity is likely to occur.

Aurora Borealis

Hoar Frost

During frosty night’s soft ice crystals sometimes form on vegetation or any other object below freezing point. Hoar frost might be lurking on sycamore seeds, spider webs and the leaves in your back garden. Look out for as many hoar frost-covered delights when you next amble over a hill as there is something quite beautiful about the patterns it creates.


An icicle dangling from the Dulnain Bridge in Grantown, Inverness-shire that grew to 27 feet in a matter of weeks could be the biggest icicle recorded in the UK. Could you discover one bigger than that? An icicle is a hanging spike of ice formed by dripping or falling water and often occur under bridges and tunnels. Next time you’re out see how many of these wickedly wintery decorations you can find.

Giant Snowballs

Giant self-rolling snowballs form mostly in unusual conditions produced by a precise combination of snow, ice, temperature and wind. Usually you would come across them in North America, but in 2010 a British couple were surprised when they stumbled upon the snow cylinders. Although very rare over here, they just might form again…

snow roller

We also discovered three new wintery terms whilst researching this article and we thought you might be interested too.
Bombogenesis: A slang term used by meteorologists to describe a winter storm that forms quickly.
Polar Vortex: A wind current that circulates above the North and South Poles. You can see a video and read more about it here.
Williwaw: A violent windstorm created when gravity pulls high-density cold air down from a mountain to the sea.

Let us know if you spot any winter phenomena @wildthingsbooks

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