Appalachia Appalachia Through My Eyes

Appalachia Through My Eyes – Ice Needles

My life in appalachia - Ice Needles


Maybe its just me-but so far this winter doesn’t seem much like winter. We’ve had above average temps most days-but a bitter cold has settled in my holler over the past few days-so maybe winter is finally here.

We live on the North side of the mountain, so it takes a while for the sun to melt the frost off. If I’m still seeing frost on the banks in late afternoon-then I know its cold outside for sure.

I never knew the type of frost in the photo had a name-or if I did I had forgotten it did. Its called Ice Needles. I just thought it was the kind of frost that’s fun to walk on-it gives off a great ‘crunch’ with every step or stomp you make. How’s winter been at your place?


p.s. I guess Old Man Winter heard me-this morning its 16 degrees with a skiff of snow in Brasstown!!

Appalachia Through My Eyes – A series of photographs from my life in Southern Appalachia.


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  • Reply
    Suzi Phillips
    January 3, 2012 at 11:17 pm

    I’ve always told “furriners” winter is the price we pay for the privilege of living in paradise. 17 degrees when I left for work this snowy, icy morning. 21 when I called it a day(quite a few hours later). Amazingly, this is the first day it has not gotten out of the twenties. After dealing with driving over steep,icy roads all winter for the last 2 years, I’ve been loving the mild weather. Not looking forward to paying my winter “rent”!

  • Reply
    January 3, 2012 at 10:42 pm

    It was 11 here on the branch this morning, and yes we call them ice needles also. Not sure how much snow was out there didn’t stop long enough to measure it with it so bitterly cold going to feed this morning, but I LOVE IT just the same!!!!!

  • Reply
    January 3, 2012 at 8:44 pm

    Didn’t know those were ice needles either… and yes, winter seems to be missing us for the most part… keep warm, Tipper…

  • Reply
    kenneth o. hoffman
    January 3, 2012 at 7:46 pm

    Tipper: here in nw washington it about 42 midday. low in the hi 30s. hoar frost about a week ago. heading for warm az. in a week. need the sunshine. blessings k.o.h

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    January 3, 2012 at 7:38 pm

    I’m setting here listening to your brother play Down the Esclante for the fifth time in a row. Tell him I said He’s Good! He wrote it and played all the parts. Wow!
    My older brother can pick anything with strings except the fiddle. I think he uses a bow on it. Me I’m left handed. I tried to learn to pick rightee but didn’t get too far. We didn’t see any snow here but I can see it on the mountains over toward Table Rock, Linville and Grandfather Mtn. I can see about fifty miles on a clear day when I come around the end of the runway at Hickory. It looked like it was still snowing up toward Boone at 4:00 this afternoon.

  • Reply
    Vicki Lane
    January 3, 2012 at 7:33 pm

    I love those ice needles! We get them here. But it’s bitter cold just now and I haven’t ventured far from the house today so haven’t seen any.
    Happy New Year, Tipper, to you and yours!

  • Reply
    January 3, 2012 at 7:24 pm

    We got pretty much the same thing here in Angier that you got in Brasstown. BRRR…and very windy.
    God bless.

  • Reply
    January 3, 2012 at 5:54 pm

    Here in the Appalachian Mountains of West Virginia, it is now 17 degrees at 6pm. The wind chill factor is 0. The high was 19 degrees today and I’m officially sick of winter!! LOL. This is just our second snow. I don’t like winter!!!

  • Reply
    Mary Holcomb Brock
    January 3, 2012 at 3:53 pm

    Hoar frost is what we called this crunchy stuff in Northern SC. Thanks for all the music.Happy New Year.Mary

  • Reply
    Karen Larsen
    January 3, 2012 at 3:33 pm

    Here in south central PA it’s finally cold today. I prefer the cold weather, so I’m a happy camper. The frost in your photo was common in our woods when we lived in Maine. It’s pretty! I always hated to stomp on it.

  • Reply
    lynn legge
    January 3, 2012 at 2:29 pm

    wow that is the neatest thing, never have had that kind of frost here in sw pa… todays high is only going to be 21 and we got about three inches of snow last night.. brrrrr is all i can say.. glad i am not going out in it.
    hope you have a great week and stay warm 🙂
    big ladybug hugs

  • Reply
    Nancy M.
    January 3, 2012 at 1:39 pm

    It sure is cold outside right now! Around 33 degrees with an awfully cold wind blowing! The ice needles are pretty, I remember seeing them before, but I didn’t know what they were called, either.

  • Reply
    January 3, 2012 at 12:51 pm

    Had 3″ of that powdery stuff this
    morning, perfect for snowcream.
    Only trouble is I ain’t got no sugar. I’ll remedy that today! My
    Jeep looked like a snowball from
    hell coming to work and folks had
    their lights on behind me trying
    to see. I love this stuff. It was
    also 16 when I checked the temp.
    I love to deer hunt when those
    icycles push up the ground and it
    crunches as you walk…Ken

  • Reply
    Wanda Devers
    January 3, 2012 at 11:44 am

    I’m thinking we called this jack frost. Haven’t seen any for yrs.

  • Reply
    Bob Aufdemberge
    January 3, 2012 at 11:30 am

    Warmer and dryer than usual for this time of year here in northeast Kansas. A few miles west of us there have been two or three significant snowfalls, but none here (near Topeka). Temperatures running about mid-40’s daytime, mid to low 20’s night. Don’t recall ever seeing ice needles around here, probably our winter humidities are too low.

  • Reply
    Lonnie L. Dockery
    January 3, 2012 at 11:02 am

    It sure looked like winter crossing Chunky Gal about six-thirty this morning Tipper!

  • Reply
    January 3, 2012 at 10:53 am

    So far here in central Texas, the weather has been sunny, cloudy, windy, rainy and that’s just… you guessed it…. in one day. Seriously though, no hog killing weather yet. Low 31, high 50 so far.

  • Reply
    Melissa P (Misplaced Southerner)
    January 3, 2012 at 10:49 am

    We didn’t have much worse weather here in Michigan than y’all did down home! It was 18 with an inch of snow at home. Considering the date, it’s been a VERY mild winter so far.

  • Reply
    Paul Certo
    January 3, 2012 at 10:17 am

    I don’t know if we have ice needles- there’s 4 or so inches of snow on top of ’em if they’re there. It’s not likely the snow will melt for the next few days, more is expected. Time to get out the snow blower so we can get out when we need to go somewhere.

  • Reply
    January 3, 2012 at 10:05 am

    I haven’t seen ice needles in quite a few years. I do remember that they were so much fun to stomp on and hear that crunch!
    It finally got cold last night here in Roanoke. It was 24F when I got up this morning. I LOVE cold weather and getting all bundle up. I sure do miss living in the mountains!

  • Reply
    Ethelene Dyer Jones
    January 3, 2012 at 9:57 am

    I wondered why I didn’t get Blind Pig on Monday, Jan. 2, but went online and found the post! I enjoyed hearing Paul play his original composition, “Down the Escalante.” (Is that a name for a river?) Wonderful piece! Enjoyed it tremendously. As to the “ice needles,” I don’t see them much here in Middle Georgia as I did when I lived in North Georgia (Union, Towns and Fannin Counties). But we had a big frost here this morning, and so cold when I walked to the paper box that I had to “wrop up” warmly!

  • Reply
    Sue Crane
    January 3, 2012 at 9:52 am

    High 30s in FL (central east coast)and a bit of wind.
    Love Down the Escalante — one of our favorite Colorado places is Escalante Canyon. Those are some nimble fingers, too.

  • Reply
    January 3, 2012 at 9:45 am

    Lise-a skiff is just enough snow to barely cover the ground-so about like your 1/2 inch : )
    Blind Pig The Acorn
    Celebrating and Preserving the
    Culture of Appalachia

  • Reply
    Will Dixon
    January 3, 2012 at 9:31 am

    Here in the cold Pacific Northwest, outside my kitchen window in Portland Oregon it’s 47 degrees. We are setting record warm temps. Go figure!

  • Reply
    teresa atkinson
    January 3, 2012 at 9:26 am

    We call it hoar frost too. I love to crunch through it as I walk the dog on cold mornings.

  • Reply
    January 3, 2012 at 9:06 am

    PS that would be in the western NC mountains

  • Reply
    January 3, 2012 at 9:04 am

    We have about 1/2 inch of snow, and it was 9 degrees at 8am..winter is here. How much is a skiff? Haven’t heard that before:)

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    January 3, 2012 at 9:04 am

    Tipper, it’s 16 degrees here in Black Mountain too. Cold for sure!
    I could whine about it but I’ll spare you,
    We had snow too, not much but enough to say it snowed.
    Yep, winter is here.

  • Reply
    dolores barton
    January 3, 2012 at 9:00 am

    Winter has arrived in North FL. I’m not sure if we brought it with us as we arrived. We have not had a frost, but very cold winds and and the temps are just a smidgen below 32 early this morning. Brrr! for FL.
    I always wondered what that type of ice was called. Thanks for the good learning.

  • Reply
    Ray P. Algee
    January 3, 2012 at 8:49 am

    Tipper, You mentioned that you live on the north side of the mountain and it reminded me of a song that I’ve been singing lately called, “The Blue Side of the Mountain.” I heard The Steel Drivers singing it. Maybe the “kitchen singers” can record this one. Ray – Memphis

  • Reply
    Uncle Al
    January 3, 2012 at 8:46 am

    14 degrees on this side of the mountain Tipper and between one and two inches of the white stuff. Enough to cover things pretty well. The wind is the worst thing…was out walking the dog and dang near froze. :O)

  • Reply
    January 3, 2012 at 8:29 am

    Winter arrived here, too! After a mild winter we had our first temp at 20 degrees last night. We were out yesterday wrapping the fall garden (which is still going strong!!!) in frost cloth. I fully expect the hoses to the barn are frozen for the first time so I am having another cup of coffee while waiting for the sun to warm things up. The goats and chickens are giving me the stink eye through the front window for the delay 🙂 Stevie @

  • Reply
    Mike McLain
    January 3, 2012 at 8:27 am

    I saw the low at 48 here in Jupiter, FL (southeast coast, about 20 minutes north of West Palm Beach). Obviously, no kind of frost here.

  • Reply
    Rick Kratzke
    January 3, 2012 at 8:26 am

    I’ve noticed to as well as others I’m sure that winter looks to be getting a slow start. Not that I really enjoy shoveling snow but if it is coming i wish it would hurry up.
    We got the same cold from you did and it is getting quite nippy here in the northeast, tomarrow night we are suppose to have a low of 9.

  • Reply
    Eva Nell Mull Wike, Ph.D.
    January 3, 2012 at 8:07 am

    Tipper: We are in the same boat as you here in East Tennessee. A dusting of white stuff and temperatures way down! But clear sky and maybe sunshine today!
    Eva Nell

  • Reply
    January 3, 2012 at 8:00 am

    Joe-I kept thinking I had heard the frost called hoary frost-so maybe I have : )
    Blind Pig The Acorn
    Celebrating and Preserving the
    Culture of Appalachia

  • Reply
    Joe Mode
    January 3, 2012 at 7:51 am

    We call that Hoar Frost here in East Tennessee. We were traveling down Norris Freeway one morning and the Hoar Frost was so bad it looke like someone had thrown out a bunch of trash, white trash, or cotton. It was an odd site and the frost was several inches long and looked like claws coming out of the ground. We stopped and looked at it. Well, it was 22 degrees this morning and we had a nice dusting of snow last night. Glad to see winter is finally here.

  • Reply
    B f
    January 3, 2012 at 7:29 am

    a few flurries here , the grass was white yesterday in so central ky
    i wont complain if the winter stays mild(helps on the heat bill)
    the ice needles look very pretty but boy they look cold !brrrrrrr
    put a log on the fire and enjoy!

  • Reply
    January 3, 2012 at 7:27 am

    So far here in east Texas it’s been mild. Still need more rain. Temp. this morning is 27 so there’s frost.

  • Reply
    Canned Quilter
    January 3, 2012 at 6:41 am

    Winter here in Northern Missouri has been pretty mild. A few flakes and some mild cold weather but nothing like last year yet.

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    January 3, 2012 at 6:19 am

    That is what we call mush ice.

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