Why build a snowman when you can build an ice castle? (Sorry Olaf).
Ice Castles got their start in 2006 when creator Brent Christensen began creating vertical ice structures in his back yard with running water. The Ice Castles grew more grandiose with each passing year and he soon found that he could build an infrastructure for the castles by creating icicles and affixing them to together. Thousands upon thousands of icicles get grown and harvested every winter to be added to the foundation of the castle and build up the different structures and forms. By 2009, the Ice Castles hit the public stage by being built at a resort in Utah. In the years since, the Ice Castles have become quite the phenomenon with thousands of people visiting them in locations around the country and plenty of media attention.
According to Ice Castles, The Story Behind the Magic, “Brent’s Ice Castles look like something that materialized out of nature. They are built with icicles – many, many icicles and become something quite magical. The icicles are sprayed with water to create great glacial towers and caves filled with ice formations which hang with stalactites of ice.” These ice structures feel like they are something that materialized out of a story tale – shining bright in the sunshine and lit up at night by a magical display of lights. If you’ve ever seen or even heard of the movie Frozen the Ice Castles certainly conjure up images in your head of a real-life fairytale.
I inquired about the optimal weather for the upkeep to maintain these structures and the master builder for the NH Ice Castles location responded that anything below 0˚F is ok, but between 0˚F and 20˚F degrees is the optimal temperature range. In thinking about this, and with how cold and snowy it is this season, I felt compelled to see how this winter season stacked up against previous winters at this location in New Hampshire and how the temperatures either worked for or against the creation of these ice castles.
At first outlook, the Average Surface Temperature for the 2014-2015 winter season (defined here as October through March) indicates that this winter has been much colder between January and March than it was on average over the past 15 years. This is especially the case for February of 2015, which is 16˚F degrees below the average of the past 15 Februaries. This was actually a great thing for the maintenance of the ice castles as 20˚F is the high end of the optimal range of temperatures for the builders and this lasted through the only full month of the Ice Castles being open to the public (January and March were both partial months).
The max temperature of Lincoln, NH in February of this year was much less than the average of the previous 15 years.
The min temperature of Lincoln, NH in February of this year was also much less than the average of the previous 15 years.
This illustrates (with the minimum and maximum values included) how the 2014/2015 season departs from the average of the past 15 years for Lincoln, NH.
Beyond the surface temperature, the other temperature variable considered for this is the “Apparent Temperature” which includes wind chill factor. In looking at the plummeting apparent temperatures in 2015 it can be seen that there was a big dip in the perceived temperature from January into February. Without knowing the sales figures for Ice Castles in this time frame, it is difficult to make any predictions on how this impacted the number of visits to the Ice Castles due to storms and cold weather, but overall, it can be concluded that this year was optimal compared to other years for the actual creation for the ice castles themselves.
Now, with spring here (at least in spirit), the Ice Castles have closed for the season, and we are looking for an uptick in temperatures for Lincoln, NH. If this year was any indication of years to come with regards to this year’s temperatures than this location should continue to be a great place to be home to New Hampshire’s Ice Castles.
For more information on the Ice Castles: http://icecastles.com/
Information on the story of the Ice Castles was provided by the book Ice Castles, The Story Behind the Magic (www.icecastles.com).