RICH COUNTY, Utah (ABC4) – It may feel like it’s still winter but there is one solid sign that spring really is here, and you’ll find it up near the Utah-Idaho border. Well, maybe “solid” is the wrong word to use in this case. At Bear Lake, the shores are lined with enormous piles of ice as warmer weather and high winds stir up the lake’s water.  

The sound of thousands of pounds, if not tons, of ice moving to the shore at Bear Lake is eerie. Stacks of ice moan as the wind causes the water to push even larger sheets of ice to the water’s edge. These mounds slowly grow into mountains until their peaks come crashing. The shattering ice sounds like 100 glass plates hitting a concrete floor. While the noise chills one to the bone, it also stirs up emotions like hope. This naturally occurring phenomenon signals the arrival of spring.  

“Once the ice starts moving, it’s amazing just how much power it has and so it just shelfs up,” Scott Tolentino told ABC4 during an interview. Tolentino is a fisheries biologist at Bear Lake State Park. He also records the ice coverage on the lake each winter. In January, the lake froze over in its entirety. This, he explained, is the first time it’s happened in the last five years. He added: “I’ve seen ice stacked up 15, 20 feet high, easily.”  

Just days ago, the lake remained frozen over. Recently, it started to crack. “When the lake does start to warm up and some of the ice starts to move around a little bit, it doesn’t take very long,” Tolentino stated. “Literally, just a couple days.”  

If one spends a few hours at the lake, it is easy to see why it only takes a few days for the ice to be pushed to the shores. On April 13, the weather was sunny and mild, breezy with some light rain, windy with graupel, and whiteout snow conditions all within a period of two hours. Looking across the lake, large sections for as far as the eye could see remained frozen. However, looking in another direction, there was nothing but bright, blue water.  

At Bear Lake State Park Marina, the water was clear of ice. Nonetheless, along the edges of the marina, large sheets of ice lined the rocky wave breakers. The chunks of ice vary in size. Some of the ice sheets are more than six feet wide and more than a foot thick. “You can imagine how much that weighs and once it’s stacked up like that, it doesn’t go anywhere,” said Tolentino. 

For those who want to see the ice formations at the lake, it’s important to know that the ice doesn’t stack up evenly across the lake’s shores. Tolentino explained, “Most of the time, it’s a westerly wind and so along the east side the ice gets shelfed up along the east shore.”  

For hundreds of yards along the eastern shore, ice has created a barrier between the beach and the water. In some areas, that barrier is more than 50 feet wide but only a few feet tall. And in some areas, the ice has created peaks taller than a one-story building. It is a sight to see.