What's with the sideways icicles in Ferndale?

Icicle point inward on a Ferndale home (Photo: Sandy Funkhouser)

FERNDALE, Wash. - There was an unusual sight amid the snow and freezing temperatures this weekend in Whatcom County this past weekend -- sideways icicles.

Sandy Funkhouser spotted these vertically-challenged icicles on the west side of a home in Ferndale. You might think the wind was a factor -- the cold air was brought in by strong northeast winds blowing out of the nearby Fraser River Valley.

However, these icicles were taken on the west side of a home -- on the leeward side of the winds and blocked by the home. So... not the wind.

Instead it was a function of water's surface tension. The icicles likely formed in traditional manner -- vertically, as snow melted then froze as it dripped off the edge of the snowbank.

But as the temperatures warmed, the entire bed of snow on the roof began to slowly slide off the angled surface; the weight of the icicles curving around the gutters. It was likely held together by surface tension from water as the snow began to melt a bit.

Sometimes this process can play out in the extreme:

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