The Big Freeze January 2018

Cape May, NJ – The Delaware Bay doesn’t freeze very often. When it does, everyone comes out to see the spectacle. Some crazies actually walked on the unstable ice chunks Saturday, all the way out to the remnant of the concrete ship. Did they understand there was frigid water just beneath that ice?

One group clambered up onto some ice covered rocks to get a group selfie with the bay.

Others stayed safely on shore, documenting the incredible sight of the massive frozen bay.   You didn’t have to leave the sand to see the waves frozen in place.

Calvin from San Diego and his friend from Cape May were among the ice tourists who had come to Sunset Beach to see salt water standing still. “Amazing” they said. They were bundled up from head to toe for good reason – the temperatures dropped to a low of ten degrees in Cape May Saturday – reaching a wind chill of minus six early in the day.

The arctic weather didn’t set any new records. It missed the old low temperature record set way back in 1904 by two degrees.  But it did freeze the Cape May Canal as well as the Bay.

This was the view (above) from the West Cape May Bridge Saturday. The canal was impassable. The Cape May Ferry hasn’t been operating since Thursday.ice2
The ice was even more impressive on the other side of the canal, along the bay in North Cape May, as you moved away from the ocean.  The Delaware Bay’s salinity starts to decrease slowly as you go north, which could make for easier freezing.

Not that that mattered much this weekend. We’ve been below freezing for days now.

This round of arctic weather comes immediately after the Big Blizzard of 2018 paralyzed the area.

Depending on where you lived in the area, you got hit with anywhere from 10 to 17 inches of snow Thursday.  One couple from Delaware County, Pennsylvania came down to their North Cape May home Saturday to check things out but, because of the huge amount of snow, they couldn’t reach their house.

So they headed over to the bay in North Cape May to see the frozen sea water instead.  “Please take our picture.” they asked me. By that time, my fingers were numb inside my gloves and my face was stinging in the icy wind but I turned them towards the sun and snapped the shot.

They looked surprisingly happy, given that they were standing in frigid winds on the edge of an Arctic looking tundra, cut off from their home by drifts of snow.

The bay was indeed an amazing sight Saturday.

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About Jane Kashlak

Jane Kashlak - a journalist, gardener and Cape Island resident - is writing a book.