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Large chunks of ice washing ashore along Cape Cod

Ice chunks floated near Duck Harbor Beach as Winnie, a golden retriever from Barnstable, played nearby.
Ice chunks floated near Duck Harbor Beach as Winnie, a golden retriever from Barnstable, played nearby.Suzanne Kreiter/Globe staff/Globe staff

The beaches of Cape Cod are taking on an Arctic look, even as the temperature warms.

Months of bitter cold created huge sheets of ice that are now breaking up and washing ashore. In Wellfleet, there are chunks of ice reminiscent of those found in much harsher climates.

Marianne McCaffery, a Cape Cod National Seashore administrator, said large snow chunks often float in during winter, but this year they are more extreme. She has seen many of them on the bay side of Cape Cod during drives through Wellfleet.

“They are bigger this year because there has been no snow melt in between storms,” McCaffery said. “I’m not surprised, considering the type of winter we have had.”

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McCaffery said the ice chunks form in open water, and then as the tide goes out they are left behind on the sand. When the tide returns, she said, they get moved up the beach.

Wellfleet assistant harbormaster Leonard Croteau said it does not take much to break up the ice wedges, because they are not solid, and they can melt into the ocean fairly quickly.

“Give us a week of warm weather, and they will be gone.”

Steve Annear
David Caruso of Yarmouth and his six-year-old daughter Riley watched the sea ice in Wellfleet.
David Caruso of Yarmouth and his six-year-old daughter Riley watched the sea ice in Wellfleet. Suzanne Kreiter/Globe staff/Globe staff