Slurpee Wave: Photographer Answers Weather Challenge, Captures Viral Image Of Frozen Surf

© Jonathan Nimerfroh

The temperature was 19 degrees on a late February morning last winter on the beach at Nantucket, Massachusetts. About 300 yards out the ocean was icing up, and the waves rolling in had the consistency of freshly mixed concrete. Checking things out was pro photographer Jonathan Nimerfroh.

“For a photographer, if there’s crazy weather, that’s the best time to be out,” he explains. “We’d had record cold temperatures for a week. The harbor was frozen solid; that happens all the time, but never the ocean.” He says the “perfect, dreamy slush waves” were the most bizarre thing he’d ever seen, and he began taking eyewitness pictures.

With the wind howling at 50 miles an hour, Nimerfroh would shoot for five minutes, return to his idling truck to warm up, then go back to the beach for more photos. “I did that maybe three or four times,” he notes.

When a friend posted one of his photos to her Instagram page, the photo and his story went viral as what came to be known as the “Slurpee Wave” was picked up by local and national TV, The New York Times, social media, and several magazines. Nimerfroh reports that his Instagram followers went from 1,500 to 14,000 in five days.

We’re not surprised. When you take a photo of something that the old-timers among Nantucket surfers, fisherman, and harbor men said they’d never seen before, you’ve got a photo everyone wants to see.

Jonathan Nimerfroh’s website,, features a variety of his surfing and lifestyle images. His Instagram photos are at Instagram @jdnphotography.

Tech Talk: Jonathan Nimerfroh took the Slurpee Wave photo with a Canon EOS 5D Mark III and an EF 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6L IS USM lens. Settings were 1/4000 second, f/5.6, ISO 200, aperture priority, and Evaluative metering.