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Frozen New York Rivers: Earth Image of the Week January 31, 2014
London Array Wind Farm
New York City is enduring one of the coldest winters in recent memory in the wake of the Arctic Vortex.
Weeks of arctic conditions across much of North America have caused waterways to freeze over to extents not seen in decades.

The image to the right of New York City was captured on January 9, 2014, by an astronaut orbiting aboard the International Space Station.

It shows a winter landscape, complete with chunks of ice clogging the Hudson River and parts of the New York and New Jersey shorelines capped by river ice.

Coverage of the frozen waterway grew during the rest of January, prompting the U.S. Coast Guard to use vessels to break up the ice and clear lanes for maritime traffic.

During the winter months, approximately 300 vessels go up and down the Hudson, transporting 10 million barrels of petroleum products, including home heating oil.

Ferry traffic from Midtown Manhattan to New Jersey was also made treacherous by waters that looked more like those in the Arctic and Antarctic than the Big Apple. Ice also began littering parts of the East River late in the month.

But as recently as the 1980s, the Hudson was regularly clogged with ice in winter. It has only been in recent years that unusual wintertime warmth has allowed the waterway to flow freely through the coldest months.

There are historical references that indicate the two rivers flowing on each side of Manhattan have frozen over so much that people were able to walk across them.

Edwin G. Burrows, co-author of Gotham, A History of New York City to 1898 wrote, “It happened often enough (on the East River) that it wasn’t absolutely remarkable.”

Image: NASA