How to Turn an Old Water Tower into a 65-Foot Icicle
Wired Laura Mallonee 01.13.17
Locals flock to gawk at a 65-foot water tower that froze this week in Sarikoy, Turkey.Ozkan Bilgin/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images
Paris has the Eiffel Tower. Pisa has its leaning tower. And the Turkish village of Sarikoy has its frozen tower.
It stands at the edge of town, 65 feet tall and leaking constantly. Ordinarily, it isn’t much to look at. But when a winter storm sent temperatures plummeting below zero, that ugly infrastructure became a beautiful icicle. Özkan Bilgin lives in the nearby city of Van, and ventured out into the bitter cold to have a look on Wednesday. He found a throng, cellphones aloft, taking photos. He snapped a few himself, the frozen structure backlit by the late afternoon sun. “People joke that it’s their Eiffel Tower,” he says.
News reports suggest the cold snap caused the pipes to burst, creating a cascade of water that froze. Maybe, but Rodney Ellis of KLM Engineering in Minnesota, says it’s more likely that the ice is the result of a steady leak. “I’ve seen quite a few tanks freeze in the winter time, but not to this extreme,” he says. More worrisome is what might happen next—the weight of all that ice could cause the tower to topple, and might explain its lopsided appearance.
This sort of thing isn’t unusual in towers with a lot of water, but Ellis suspects this one also suffers from age and neglect. “You’re looking at something that could have been built before 1950,” he says. “It could have been leaking all summer and nobody paid attention to it.”
They’re paying attention now. When Bilgin visited, he saw a crew trying to scrape away the enormous stalactites. They have a variety of tools at their disposal, including dousing it with hot water, but the ice is so thick there’s little they can do. And so the frozen tower of Sarikoy will stand until spring.