WESTBROOK, ME — The mysterious spinning disk of ice in Maine that has spun conspiracy theories of alien invasions and the end of time has stopped turning now that it has reached the bank of the Presumpscot River, but that hasn’t stopped people from flocking to the Portland suburb of Westbrook to see it.

The city hilariously egged on the speculation with a post on Facebook that said “it looks like the moon has landed in Westbrook” and included video footage from a drone camera. People loved it, commenting that the enormous just adds to the charm of the city of 17,500 and brought worldwide attention to it

Given the hype surrounding the spinning 300-foot wide disk, the explanation for it is disappointingly down to earth and anti-climactic. It’s a chunk of ice, the kind that form on rivers, streams and lakes every winter, and its sharp edges were sanded down when it collided with river debris and the shoreline.

The river current and frigid temperatures combined to create a vortex that caused the ice disk to spin, Eric Fisher, chief meteorologist for CBS Boston station WBZ-TV said.

“The shore in this case acts as almost like a grinding wheel where the ice hits the coast and it starts to shave off,” Fisher explained. “And it creates this perfect pizza shape of the ice disk there floating in the water.”

Westbrook hasn’t buzzed this much about mysterious phenomena since June 2016, when city police reported seeing a giant snake eating a beaver at about the same place on the Presumpscot River.

“The snake was eating a large mammal, possibly a beaver (not joking),” police said in a statement at the time. The snake, which police estimated it was about 10 feet long, disappeared in the water before police could get decent video. The police department said on its Facebook page said the video that was shot was grainy and poorly lit, “worse than the Loch Ness photo and Bigfoot video.”

But Wessie is getting renewed celebrity on the “Wessie the Presumpscot Python” Facebook page. Its human agents posted Tuesday: “I guesssss I’m not the only amazing thhhhhhing in the Pressssumpsssssscot!”

The spinning ice disk had some locals wondering if the Presumpscot River is a magnet for weird occurrences, the Press Herald reported.

And though folks are having fun with it — Rob Mitchell told the newspaper that ducks were sitting on the ice, “rotating on this big lazy Susan” as if it was “a big duck-go-round” — ice formations like this aren’t that unusual.

They’ve been reported in Michigan and North Dakota as well, and Ethan Gutmann, a hydrologist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado, told NBC News spinning ice disks probably happen “more often than we think.”

But, he added, “it’s relatively uncommon to see this form right in a city like this.”
He also said the one in Maine is one of the biggest he’s ever seen.

Steven Daly, who specializes in river ice hydraulics for the Army Corps of Engineers, told CBS News that most f the ice disks he’s seen are only 30 to 50 feet wide.

He called them “very rare.”

“We may hear about these once or twice a winter,” Daly said. “They had the perfect combination of air temperature, ice production and flow conditions for this to form … and it may not happen again for a number of years.”

Approaching winter storms in Maine could bury the ice disk in snow and prevent it from breaking free from the bank and spinning again, experts said.

Here’s the video from the city of Westbrook:

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