September 13, 2016

Seattle's Super Ice Cube is Melting Quickly. Plus, Our Ice Block History

Perhaps a metaphor for global warming or simply a literally cool thing to do, Seattle giant ice cube is melting rapidly.   Let's check it out.  Here is an image tonight (Monday evening).  Still standing tall but substantially diminished.

 Or the view Monday afternoon.  The shade from the trees is clearly a positive for the cube.

Compare this against what it looked like on Friday when it was installed.

The temperatures during the past several days have been near or slightly higher than normal.
And the forecast is for warmer than normal conditions this week, with temperatures reaching the mid-70s.   Not good for Mr. Cube.

Regarding our little contest, please no more fact, we won't count any posted after Saturday, since it would not be fair to do so.

Seattle's Ice Block History

And now a little history about ice blocks in Seattle.   Back in the early 1870s, there was growing demand for ice in Seattle for cooling drinks and making ice cream.  Insulated ice houses were prepared using saw dust from local mills....but where to get the ice in summer?   Some folks suggested shipping it down from Alaska, but that is not what happened.  It was cheaper to purchase Sierra Nevada ice from near the Truckee River, which was shipped by rail to San Francisco and then northward in insulated lumber ships traveling over cold water.  In 1872, starting with a shipment of 300 tons of ice, Puget Sound Ice Company sold the ice for 3 cents a pound, delivered.  Cheaper than you can get it in local supermarkets today!  And kind of ironic that Seattle got its ice many hundreds of miles from the south.

Seattle in 1872.  Ice cream was the rage then thanks to California ice

Talk on Northwest Climate Surprises on September 28.

During the evening of September 28, I will be giving a talk in Seattle at UW's Kane Hall on Climate Surprise: Unexpected Impacts of Global Warming on the Pacific Northwest. You think global warming will simply bring warmer temperatures, drought, less snow, and more storms? Think again. The latest climate model simulations provide a far more nuanced prediction of what will happen here, with some of the results quite surprising. This talk is sponsored by CarbonWa and the Audubon Society To find out more or to secure tickets, please go here.


  1. So it isn't ONE block, but many piled together. Does that make a difference?

  2. Yes, more blocks make a difference. More surface area exposed to the air. It would melt slower if it was one block.

  3. Actually, 3 cents in 1872 is roughly 56 cents today. Of course, alculatingg inflation over such a long time is pretty inaccurate... But I'd say that the price hasn't changed that much. Still pretty remarkable.

  4. The thought of ice from Truckee CA today is a puzzlement. Donner lake hardly freezes over.


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