5 extraordinary wintry phenomena that will take your breath away

From menacing snow monsters to dazzling icebows and frozen waterfalls, winter produces some of the most rare, unique and beautiful weather phenomena on the planet. Here are just five of these occurances featured in An Anthology of Extraordinary Earth, our enchanting new book that tells the stories of more than 100 features of our amazing planet.

Snow monsters

Like something out of a scary fairy tale, these giant and menacing “snow monsters” appear every winter on the slopes of Mount Zao in Japan. However, there’s no need to be frightened of these particular monsters – because they are actually just fir trees covered in snow.


To the naked eye, snowflakes look like fluffy white crumbs but if you look at snowflakes under a microscope, you will see that each one has its own intricate and individual pattern. In fact, they are so unique that no two snowflakes are ever the same.

Stripy iceberg

What is perhaps even more remarkable than this towering iceberg, is the fact that it has blue stripes. Known as striated icebergs, these striking stripes are caused by water getting trapped in gaps in the ice and then freezing really fast – too fast to make bubbles.

Frozen waterfall

Rarely, waterfalls freeze over, but when they do, they make dazzling, intricate patterns of ice and snow like this spectacular frozen waterfall in Johnston Canyon in Banff National Park, Canada. In order for waterfalls to freeze over, the temperature of the moving water must drop below the freezing point of 0°C (32°F) for tiny, needle-shaped crystals called frazil ice to begin forming.

Bows and halos

Did you know that as well as rainbows there are other types of “bows” that light up the sky? From spectacular icebows that are created when sunlight is reflected by ice crystals in the sky to make a colourful halo, to shimmering moonbows that are made by light from the moon shining on water dropets, these atmospheric phenomena are a rarity in the natural world.
Discover more unique stories like these in An Anthology of Extraordinary Earth.