Post-tropical storm Lee made Nova Scotia, Canada look like it experienced a heavy snowstorm instead of a tropical storm. Tons of sea foam washed ashore that looked like snow. It built up along the coast and on roads.
How can a tropical storm create pictures that look like a winter wonderland? And how can you make your own sea foam at home?
What is sea foam?
According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, sea foam is dissolved organic matter getting churned up in the ocean. The ocean is full of this with matter like dissolved salts, dead algae, and unfortunately, pollutants.
Sea foam forms from agitated wind and waves in the ocean. Seawater gets shaken up, mixes all of the organic matter to create lots of bubbles, which eventually turns into sea foam. A tropical storm is the perfect creator for sea foam.
As a hurricane, post-tropical storm Lee had maximum wind speeds of 70 miles per hour according to the National Hurricane Center. Those tropical storm-force winds also extended over 300 miles from the eye of the storm.
Those winds churned up all of the dissolved organic matter in the Atlantic Ocean. As post-tropical storm Lee made landfall, it left people in Nova Scotia with more of a wintry look outside from the thick sea foam.
Sea foam does not just form in the Atlantic Ocean. It can form anywhere dissolved organic matter gets churned up.
Below is a picture of some sea foam at Ocean Beach in San Francisco.
Is sea foam harmful?
Typically, sea foam is not harmful to humans, it can actually be an indicator of a productive ocean ecosystem.
However, it can become harmful during large algae blooms. Algae is one of the most common source of thick sea foams.
According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, popping sea foam bubbles from an algae bloom release algal toxins into the air. If you’re at the beach when this happens, this can cause itchy eyes. This can also be a health risk for people with respiratory issues.
How to make your own sea foam
If you want a fun science experiment, making your own sea foam is quite easy.
Take a clear glass with you on your next trip to Lake Milton or on your next vacation to the beach. Fill up the glass with lake or seawater.
If you look closely, you will see a bunch of particles floating in the water. That’s all dissolved organic matter from that lake or ocean.
Vigorously shake the glass, and you’ll begin to notice a layer of bubbles forming on the surface of the water. That means you just made your very own sea foam!