The Westbrook ice disk … is back.

OK, so it looks more like a translucent, jagged-edged ice blob at this point rather than the perfectly spherical disk that mesmerized people and garnered headlines around the world last year. But it is in the same exact location as last year, suggesting the Presumpscot River is working up another all-natural distraction for winter-weary Mainers.

And it’s happening almost exactly one year after the original Westbrook ice disk became an internet sensation.

“ICE BREAKING NEWS: Ice Disk 2020 is making a run for it,” the city of Westbrook announced via tweet on Friday evening over an aerial picture of the disk. “There appears to be another ice disk forming in the Presumpscot River in Westbrook. It’s not a perfect circle yet, but it is rotating counterclockwise again & the seagulls are along for the ride.”

A video shot by Justin Lumiere shows the nascent disk steadily spinning in the waters near the Dana Court parking garage and, at times, drifting toward the icy river banks that helped give the 2019 disk its near-perfect shape.

Last year, images of the massive ice disk – looking moon-like as it rotated in the current of the dark river – went viral online and made Westbrook a winter-time tourist destination. People flocked to the river shoreline to gawk at the alien-looking disk measuring the size of a football field in diameter and to ponder its formation and meaning.

It was, by far, the biggest natural phenomenon to hit the small southern Maine city since “Wessie” the elusive 10-foot-long snake spotted in the Presumpscot inspired T-shirts, a line of beers and even a festival.

“Tens of thousands of people stopped by the banks of the Presumpscot River for a glimpse,” the Press Herald’s Bob Keyes wrote about the 2019 ice disk. “Scientists set up a webcam so they could study it. Poets wrote about it. Schoolteachers arranged field trips so students could see it. Mixologists concocted drinks in its honor, and talk show hosts debated its mystical meaning. It has made headlines in Washington, London and Tokyo.”

The disk spun for several weeks, surviving several storms and the freeze-thaw cycle of Maine’s January weather before melting into history and local lore. Along the way, the disk provided a much-appreciated boost to cafes, restaurants and other businesses during an often-slow post-holiday season.

Will the 2020 version achieve the same size – if not the status – of the original Westbrook ice disk?

That’s tough to say, but Friday’s night’s frigid temperatures and a snowstorm expected on Saturday could help bulk up the young, developing disk.

Stay tuned.

 

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