This article is over 5 years old and may contain outdated information.


'Ice hurricane' off Labrador coast mystifies pilots

At first it appeared to be a weather system: a vast white swirl with a well-defined centre
  • Jul 06, 2016
  • 218 words
  • 1 minutes
Expand Image

From the air, it looked like a weather system: a vast white swirl with a well-defined centre sitting just off the coast of Labrador.

But on closer inspection, what appeared to be a strong storm was actually a mass of sea ice caught in an ocean eddy, or circular current of water.

Kyle Roberts, a meteorologist with KOKH-FOX 25 in Oklahoma City, tweeted images of the ice gyre captured by a pilot friend, along with a NASA satellite image from June 26 confirming the size and location of the eddy.

Ocean eddies are common but rarely visible to the naked eye. In this case, explains The Weather Channel, the eddy was likely caused by the clash between the frigid Labrador Current and the warm Gulf Stream, which due to their temperature have different densities. Chunks of ice drifting south from the Arctic just happened to get caught in the middle, putting on a spectacular show for aircraft and satellites for more than a week before the eddy dissipated.


Are you passionate about Canadian geography?

You can support Canadian Geographic in 3 ways:

Related Content

A man watches a helicopter fly low above an icy ocean from his ship.

People & Culture

Safety first, service always: The Canadian Coast Guard turns 60

A celebration of the Canadian Coast Guard’s renowned search-and-rescue capabilities — and more — as the special operating agency turns 60

  • 4392 words
  • 18 minutes
A fog bank moved in over an icy landscape cover in shallow pools of water.


Last bastion of ice

What the collapse of the Milne ice shelf and the loss of a rare Arctic ecosystem might teach us about a changing planet

  • 2894 words
  • 12 minutes

People & Culture

On thin ice: Who “owns” the Arctic?

As the climate heats up, so do talks over land ownership in the Arctic. What does Canadian Arctic Sovereignty look like as the ice melts?

  • 4353 words
  • 18 minutes
Cover of new book ICE, with author photo of Klaus Dodds


The meaning of ice

In his new book, Klaus Dodds delves into the fascinating natural and cultural history of ice

  • 1293 words
  • 6 minutes