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It's Not Snow: Storm Sends Sea Foam Flying At Nantasket Beach

HULL (CBS) -- The white stuff piled up at Nantasket Beach as a nor'easter churned offshore, but this wasn't snow. Video from the coast showed sea foam from the ocean coming on land Friday.

Mike McCarthy, of Hingham, captured video of the "crazy stormy foam." WBZ-TV executive weather producer Terry Eliasen explains below how sea form is formed and what role subtropical storm Melissa played in the conditions.

nantasket flying sea foam
Sea foam off Nantasket Beach. (Image credit Mike McCarthy/Hingham)

"If you scoop up some water from the ocean in a clear glass and look at it closely, you'll see that it's chock full of tiny particles. Seawater contains dissolved salts, proteins, fats, dead algae, detergents and other pollutants, and a bunch of other bits and pieces of organic and artificial matter. If you shake this glass of ocean water vigorously, small bubbles will form on the surface of the liquid.

Sea foam forms in this way - but on a much grander scale - when the ocean is agitated by wind and waves. Each coastal region has differing conditions governing the formation of sea foams.

Algal blooms are one common source of thick sea foams. When large blooms of algae decay offshore, great amounts of decaying algal matter often wash ashore. Foam forms as this organic matter is churned up by the surf.

And the seas are so churned up right now large waves are hurling this sea foam onshore."

The weather in southern New England is expected to improve this weekend as Melissa pulls away.


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