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Surreal feelings in life are to be had among the snow ghost. The Snow Ghost are to say the least are expressive beauties in Montana The casual observer mistakenly thinks that these trees are encrusted with snow, while others erroneously called the coating hoar frost. The truth is that the cover is heavy accretions of ice -- called rime. The architects of snow ghosts are the winds, clouds, and fog that frequently buffet and blanket the ridge tops and summit of the mountain. Even though these clouds are colder than the freezing temperature of water at 32 degrees Fahrenheit, they are made of masses of suspended, liquid, water droplets. These super-cooled water droplets can exist in a liquid state between 32 and minus 40 degrees because they lack freezing nuclei. These droplets freeze, however, when they encounter ridge top and summit obstacles like trees. The resulting coating is rime ice. This process is akin to taking very small, but multiple buckets of cold water and splashing them upon these objects and causing them to freeze into a thick accretion of ice. Rime is not all bad however. Light accumulations act as a barrier, protecting the tree and its needles from the abrasive action of blowing ice, and the drying of cold winds. These Snow ghosts are lodge pole pines that were taken on the summit of Two Top Mountain on the Continental Divide outside of West Yellowstone, Montana. Two Top mountain view, a panoramic view of three states (Montana, Idaho, Wyoming), two national parks, and five mountain ranges, on a clear day you can see the Grand Teton's over a 100 miles away.
February 25th, 2013
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