Two American Ice Falls

Two interesting ice falls took place in the USA during May 2018.

Ice falls are a true Fortean classic, up there with falls of fish and frog rains. The general scientific consensus is that the ice comes from aircraft as a result of a build up on their wings which drops off as the plane enters warmer air. In some cases the ice is blue-coloured or smells, suggestive of a leak from an aircraft’s potable water system. This explanation is hard to prove as it’s pretty much impossible to match fallen ice to a particular aircraft.

Others have proposed that some ice falls are the result of ice formation high in the atmosphere. Jesús Martínez-Frías, a geologist from Spain, has coined the term megacryometeors to describe the phenomenon, although his theory is not widely accepted.

Two recent cases highlight the problems associated with attempting to identify the source of these falls. The first took place in Abingdon, Maryland on the afternoon of Friday, May 11. Dr. Yuvraj Kamboj was working in his practice when he got a strange call from his parents. They had been at their home in the 900 block of Sidehill Drive when they heard a loud noise outside and went out to check the house. A neighbour pointed out damage to their roof, at which point they called their son.

“When I got here” Yuvraj told reporter Erika Butler of The Baltimore Sun, “ice was everywhere.” The ice had damaged the front gable and an exterior light. It had struck the roof and was scattered in prices across the lawn.

The FAA was investigating. Their representative told The Sun:

“Normally, when ice falls from an aircraft it is due to a lavatory malfunction. It also is blue or green from the lavatory disinfectant. (Fire department) personnel advised the ice was clear in color and there was no inclement weather in the area. The FAA was contacted and they advised two aircraft had passed over that area 15 [minutes] prior to the incident. They will investigate the incident further however the source of the ice is currently unconfirmed.”

So the fact that the house is under a flightpath is and the presence of two planes close to the time of the incident is suggestive of an aircraft being the source. But where was the ice during those 15 minutes?

Another case three days later also took place under a flight path. On 14 May, Walnutport, Pennsylvania resident Brian Cavanaugh and his family claimed to have heard a big crash in the night and then found ice and sleet on the shed roof and all over the road. The story was covered by WFMZ-TV (with video).

Cavanaugh told WFMZ-TV reporter Jamie Stover that his house was also under a flightpath, so the plane explanation again certainly seems possible, although no plane was explicitly mentioned.

So both cases are suggestive of planes, but not conclusively so.  Intriguing.

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