Strange ice pancake phenomenon observed on Scouthal Burn near Watten
Easier access to your trusted, local news. Subscribe to a digital package and support local news publishing.
A rare sight was observed on Sunday morning as a series of icy discs were seen spinning on the surface of Scouthal Burn near Watten.
Though the Met Office describes the phenomenon as a very "unique spectacle" the paper has reported previous sightings at Dunbeath Strath in December 2020 and also in February 2021 when a monster-sized ice disc or pancake, measuring around 20ft across was seen on River Thurso near Halkirk.
The discs typically form in areas where there is some water movement and air temperatures just below freezing, like at Scouthal Burn on Sunday. They have also been observed in oceans where the pancakes can take on enormous proportions and individual slabs can ride over each other in a process called rafting, according to the National Snow and Ice Data Center. Over time, the individual pancake ice slabs can freeze together to form a solid ice sheet.
At Scouthal Burn, a fast flowing stream of water was causing froth to form and collect in a pool at the side of a small bridge. The frothy mix was disturbed by eddies of water causing rotations within it that froze over in the chilly conditions.
The discs varied from the size of a saucer to that of a large pizza and though they appeared solid were quite slushy and easy to break apart when lifted up.
In February last year, a 20ft-wide ice pancake was seen and photographed by Jamie Mccarthy just above the Aimster pool on River Thurso.
Jamie told the paper: "I was brought up on the river so I’ve seen a few big ones over the years but certainly no bigger than that one."