Ice Boom Lifted on the Niagara River


Ice from ice boom in the Niagara River, looking towards the City of Niagara Falls, Ontario.

I thought I would show you something not many of you get to see. If I was there on the first day, the whole river was covered with ice, but I doubt I would have gotten the softened, painterly feel to the afternoon photos.

What you are seeing is ice floating down the Niagara River that was set free when the ice boom was raised at the beginning of April. The ice boom is a series of 22 steel cables spanning across the river, connected to floating pontoons and anchored to the river bottom.


The ice gets crusty.

The boom was designed to aid in the formation of a stable ice arch at the mouth of the Niagara River. It prevents excessive ice build up at the hydro-electric water intakes. With or without the boom, only about 2% of all ice from Lake Erie enters the Niagara River (according to the video). The rest of the ice pack melts into Lake Erie. See the video below.


Very Large Iceberg.

There is a lot of debate on the effect on local weather conditions and also differing spring warm up of the landscape, with plants beginning growth weeks later than would be without the boom.

I have no idea if this is true, but it certainly does make sense, especially concerning the water temperature in Lake Erie. The video below is put out for the sake of the Power Authority, so it will be one-sided. You will see the boom at the river origin and how it operates.


Large icebergs floating down the Niagara River giving a few gulls a ride over the falls if they wait too long to take flight.

I attended at talk last weekend given by a local organic bee expert, Jeri Hens. Jeri is the only NYS producer of USDA raw organic native wildflower and tree varietal honey. A very knowledgeable woman on growing and producing naturally, she had mentioned how the severity of the drought last year has now continued into spring this year. I checked the precipitation statistics for 2013 so far, and she was spot on.

Very little snow and rain has occurred in Niagara County up until this week with flood conditions. No complaints though because our area is in desperate need. In an upcoming post, you will see what happened in 2012 due to dry conditions worldwide during the month of May. Pretty amazing when it is presented in video format. There is a lot of water here, just not available to crops, garden and landscapes for the past few years.


The Upper Niagara River is calm when the air is calm. It gets choppier as it approaches the Falls in fast and inescapable rapids.


What are these birds in the Lower Niagara River? I tried to find out, but no luck.


Looking down the Niagara River through the haze, you can see the ice buildup along the river bank off in the distance.

The Lower River is where the Falls empties. This is well down stream of the wild rapids. Here boats sail and motor.


Gull in the upper Niagara River, before the Falls.


This image is looking toward the mist of the Falls and Niagara Falls, Ontario.

About Garden Walk Garden Talk

I love to photograph, paint, draw, design, garden, travel the world, and pass on a few tips and ideas that I learned through experience as a Master Gardener and architect. I am highly trained in my field and enjoy my work each and every day. I garden in Niagara Falls, NY in zone 6-B. Find me at:
This entry was posted in garden, Niagara Falls and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

37 Responses to Ice Boom Lifted on the Niagara River

  1. I can remember as a kid going with my family to Front Park in Buffalo to watch the ice floes float down. It’s an exciting time when the ice boom is removed!

  2. mazza18467 says:

    What an experiment, I am sure amounts of ice that big, have their effect on the environment, it is a matter of common sense. The temperature of the water in those amounts definitely has it influence on the air-temperature, which results is delay of spring. The birds on the picture are Anas acuta / Northern Pintail.
    Maybe that is even the reason why our spring here in the Netherlands is a month late. One thing is for sure the climate is definitely changing.

  3. Such a pretty sight to see. Thanks for posting photos.

  4. That was a very informational video. I would have to agree with him that the effects of the boom would be negligible but who cares if it prevents problems for so many people? It was neat that one day the ice was 280 sq miles then down to 90 the next day. So amazing. I wonder does it raise the level of Lake Erie when it melts? Thanks for sharing this. I love learning and this was definitely something I would not have learned about in my local paper.

    • I don’t know the answer on if it raises water level, but the the river takes a large flow from the lake I guess. I do know it lowers air temperature for a longer period than would be without it though. The cold breezes are what we feel and what keeps plants behind schedule if soil temps stay lower longer. I suppose I could find it out, but like I mentioned, there is a lot of debate on the boom.

  5. The text makes reference to a very serious problem, but some of the images are so serene, that I can only enjoy them and forget about the problem.

  6. Interesting post and video!

  7. Fascinating stuff! I am surprised to read that you are in a drought. Our lake levels are finally at full capacity for the first time in 7 years. Winter is our rainy season and usually the time when the reserves are replenished.

  8. Thanks for sharing. This is something we’d never even considered happening on a river. I learn new things everyday from my blog friends.

  9. Brian Comeau says:

    You might have more Ice there than we have at the north pole….

  10. Jason says:

    So sorry to hear your drought continues! Speaking for myself, I am always much more reluctant to gripe about rainy days. Last summer’s drought was horrendous, but we have been getting a decent amount of moisture since late fall.

  11. Andrea says:

    That is spectacular, i don’t understand much of those but i feel a bit scared of the magnitude of everything. Niagara Falls is so big, so is everything else including the ice that gets through. I am amazed at the strategy why the “boom” is placed there, and how they are put there by people and machine also can’t enter my imagination, haha! Whatever, the shots i understand and can relate to, so thanks for all the info.

  12. Christy says:

    Hi Donna…I really liked seeing these pictures. I especially like the ones of the birds floating along on the icebergs.

  13. Hmm, still a very pretty scene but somehow casts sadness…

  14. We get a huge ice block at the east end of the lake…luckily I am at the west end…well across the street so no fear of flooding here. How lucky to hear the bee expert. We are not in a drought here but under flood watches. Lots of snow and now lots of rain.

  15. catmint says:

    wonderful photos and info donna – thanks for this post. It shows me a world I’ve never seen, and probably never will.

  16. Les says:

    I find this type of engineered water systems fascinating. It looks like something the Army Corp of Engineers would have come up with. I also find this sort of thing a little frightening, as man attempts to redirect and divert nature to suit our needs, but when they fail they are usually spectacular failures.

  17. alesiablogs says:

    I’ve never heard of an ice boom before! Wow! I really would like to see your area of the world. Some of my ancestors actually came through that area from the 1830s!

  18. Sue says:

    Thanks for the ice boom info. I live not too far from Lake Erie and never considered where the ice went. I thought it just melted. Very educational post.

  19. I am sitting here reading this with sunburned legs….what a contrast. I am surprised you couldn’t figure out the birds/ducks. Might do a quick gander to see if I can make the id. 🙂

Comments are closed.