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Spinning circle of ice in Maine captures nation's attention, but it's happened here before

A large frozen ice circlespins in Maine's Presumpscot River. (Photo: WGME-TV)

Who would have thought a floating patch of ice could mesmerize the world? But when it's in a nearly perfect circle, with shades looking like a desolate some lunar surface and a slow spin to nearly mimic a planet counting the days, it's sure to capture the attention and imagination of those who gaze upon it.

But this 300-foot-wide spinning circle of ice in the middle of Westbrook, Maine's Presumpscot River was just a fluke of nature.

"It's just interesting because it's not something that people see every day,” Ruth Starke, who works in Westbrook, told WGME-TV. “It's not normal to see a giant floating disc in the water."

Westbrook city officials say the disc formed from the churning water current created by the waterfall just 100 feet north of the disk. It's causing it to slowly spin counter-clockwise.

But it's not like it's never happened before. In fact, we had a similar such spinning ice circle in the Cascades two winters ago.

Kaylyn Messer headed out along a forest road found this large ice circle spinning in the middle of the Snoqualmie River:

Here is a closer look:

The ice circles are created when the top layer of relatively warm water freezes, but then gets caught in the eddy of a river to morph into a continuous spin.

But it's not a solid sheet of ice. A meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Grand Forks, N.D. said in a story I featured in my weather blog about a previous ice circle some years ago that it's a collection of ice cubes. "If you were to throw a grapefruit-size rock on it, it would go through," said Allen Schlag.

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