Resident finds ice ‘manna’ on his property

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, December 19, 2000

Ronald Albritton woke to a strange sight Monday morning. Like any other day, the farm supplier rose early and looked out his window searching for deer that frequent his property on U.S. 61 North in Stanton.

But instead of wildlife, Albritton was greeted by a wild array of white dotting the steep hillside in his backyard.

&uot;At first I thought somebody had rolled my yard or some trash had blown across the pasture,&uot; he said. But on inspecting the cobweb-like objects more closely, Albritton found they were made of ice.

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Hundreds of the oddly-shaped formations were wrapped around barren plant stalks. Though varying in size and shape, each carried a delicate pattern as if they had been spun from frozen thread.

Albritton said he wonders if overnight winds picked up droplets of water from a nearby pond and wound them around the stalks. No other water source, such as a water line, is near the area, he said.

Mark McAllister, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Jackson, offered a similar explanation.

Cloudy skies and a southern wind Sunday night supplied limited moisture in Natchez, but radar did not detect anything unusual, McAllister said.

&uot;There could have been some unique winds in his location,&uot; he said.

But residents could see some ice formations today as an Arctic cold front dips into the area with 15-30 mile-per-hour winds making temperatures feel between 0 and -10 degrees, he said.

A former resident of Illinois, Albritton said he has weathered ice storms and blizzards, but had never seen anything like what appeared in his backyard Monday.

Customers from his business next door, family and friends – including his preacher – were just as intrigued, Albritton said.

&uot;I told the preacher, I have a miracle in my backyard, and he said what is it? I said it’s ‘manna from heaven,’&uot; Albritton said laughing.

But those curious didn’t have much opportunity to view the phenomenon. Albritton said about 80 percent of the ice had melted by mid-morning, and those formations that remained were fragile.

&uot;If you try to pick them up, they fall all to pieces,&uot; he said. &uot;That’s the difference between God putting it together and man trying to take it apart.&uot;

Albritton did salvage one formation by placing it in his freezer and would like to have it looked at by a meteorologist.