Winds of more than 73mph battered bricks of ice with so much force it has uprooted trees and crushed street lamps in Lake Erie, in the state of New York.
The phenomenon is known as “ice shove” and is so rare it hasn’t happened in living memory.
“We’ve had storms in the past but nothing like this,” local Dave Schultz told US media.
Dave, who is from the Hoover Beach area of Lake Erie which is one of the areas where residents have been asked to evacuated, said he has lived in the area for 50 years.
“I’ve never seen ice like that, this close. Not ever this close”
In all that time he has never seen spilling onto patios like it is today.
And Ed Hoak, 69, has been around Lake Erie his entire life and has never seen ice deposits like this.
“I’ve never seen ice like that, this close. Not ever this close,” he told US media.
But Hoak, from Hoak’s Lakeshore restaurant on Route 5 in Hamburg, said he believes the natural ice wall could have protected some residents from flooding.
Shocking videos posted to Twitter today show the ice is still moving relentlessly further inwards.
Meanwhile, resident David Piano tweeted: ”This ice tsunami is one of the craziest things I’ve ever witnessed. Starting to bulldoze trees and street lamps.”
And twitter user Peter Thanasse wrote: “It’s pretty bad here in Niagara/FtErie area.
“My roof is bare in spots now (already called insurance) and wind along Lake Erie shoreline has created an ice tsunami”.