May 28, 2014
The Washington Post has a feature on Lake Superior’s stubborn ice cover:
As of Memorial Day, ice covered 4.5 percent of Lake Superior according to NOAA, and 1.7 percent of the Great Lakes overall (though Superior is the only lake with remaining ice). The recent Great Lakes ice cover is unrivaled in records dating back to the early 1970s.
Ice cover the Great Lakes has been way above normal and, at times record-setting, for months.
In early March this year, the Great Lakes ice extent reached 94.19%, the second most on record for any month, dating back to 1973 in NOAA’s dataset, and most on record so late in the season. In late April, ice still covered nearly one-third of the Great Lakes, the most on record by a large margin so late into spring.
Click through for some photos of people enjoying the ice.
Ann took this last weekend at Miners Castle in the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. How cold is that water right now? Michigan Sea Grant’s Coastwatch for the central UP shore of Lake Superior recorded a balmy 36.7 degrees on May 25th!!
Like many, Rudy stayed up really late to see what the new May Camelopardalids meteor shower would deliver. The answer was “Not a whole lot.” One thing they say is that predictions might have been a bot off and they will put on a show tonight. You can read about the whys and wherefores on EarthSky, but I’d like to make a couple of points.
One is that (as you can see from the photo) the skies last night were jaw-droppingly clear, providing some of the most amazing star gazing in recent memory.
The second (and I think the real payoff) is that those hardy folks who stayed up or dragged themselves out of bed saw an the first act of an event that could take recur for millennia. Having a chance to see the birth of something that operates on a cosmic timescale is pretty darned cool!
More meteors on Michigan in Pictures!
May 9, 2014
One of the neatest things for me about online photography and social media is how things come together in a synchronistic fashion sometimes. Yesterday, I posted a photo by Shawn Malone from above at Miners Castle of the frozen expanse of Lake Superior. For everyone who wondered what things were looking like at beach level, here you go!
April 30, 2014
I try not to blog photos from the same photographer close together, but sometimes the photos have different ideas. John aka Michigan Nut took this shot on April 26th at Michigan’s largest waterfall and writes:
Upper Michigan still has over a foot of snow on the ground and the Tahquamenon river is RAGING from the runoff. The mist was freezing on my camera. I think the light on the left side of the image is coming from the little town of Paradise, Michigan.
The official Tahquamenon Falls Facebook has a great video of the spring flow which can approach 50,000 gallons per second!
April 26, 2014
Sherri Welch has a great feature (with video) in Crain’s Detroit entitled Underneath Belle Isle with the Wizard of Scott Fountain:
Far, far below Belle Isle, in a domed-ceiling building few know exist, Robert Carpenter keeps watch, switching levers, hitting buttons and adjusting valves like a modern-day Wizard of Oz.
But his motions aren’t designed to produce an apparition.
They’re focused on producing a plume of water that jets 20, 30, 40, 50 feet or higher into the air, along with countless other smaller bursts of water.
Carpenter is the unofficial caretaker of Belle Isle’s massive, antique James Scott Memorial Fountain.
It’s not a paying gig for him, but, truly, a labor of love.
Carpenter and his team did, restoring the pearly sheen to its marble basin, sculpted faces, animals and all five tiers.
Being the engineer he is, Carpenter couldn’t stop there.
He began scrutinizing the antique valves, pipes and drains, practically living in the domed structure under the fountain as he prepared it for operation through maintenance that included gingerly flushing its corroded, cast iron pipes and rushing to clean the resulting red water from the fountain’s marble bowl.
Read on for more at Crain’s and definitely check out the video – very cool to see what’s below this beautiful Michigan landmark!
Derek is one of my favorite Detroit photographers, and if you like his photos you can head over to his Flickr page for information about how to get them. In addition to taking great pictures, he often includes a brief story of the subject as is the case with this photo:
A Cheat, A Liar, a Cad, But A Damn Fine Fountain
Not exactly loved by all during his time on this planet, James Scott inherited a fortune from his real-estate-baron Father. He attempted to spend the majority of it during his lifetime, Building a large house ( it wasn’t large enough, he wanted his neighbors house as well. The neighbor declined so James built a huge addition to the front and top of his house, blocking out the sun for 3/4 of the day to get back at him ) , throwing large Gambling Parties oblivious to the amount he may have lost, suing any business partners ( or competitors ) that attempted to move in on what James thought should be his. He was described even by his friends as vindictive.
When he died in 1910 he left his sizeable fortune to the city under the specification that a memorial be created to honor him. It took 10 years for the city to agree to use the money for this purpose, and another 5 to complete this fountain – located on Belle Isle in Detroit. It was designed by Cass Gilbert and completed in 1925.
April 17, 2014
Last year I cited the Michigan Natural Features Inventory entry for Great Blue Heron Rookeries. It remains the definitive source, so I guess a rewind is in order:
The great blue herons in Michigan are largely migratory, with almost all leaving the state during the winter months. Most leave by end of October and return in early to mid-March.
The great blue heron is mostly a colonial nester, occasionally they nest in single pairs. Colonies are typically found in lowland swamps, islands, upland hardwoods and forests adjacent to lakes, ponds and rivers. Nests are usually in trees and may be as high as 98 ft. (30 m) or more from the ground. The platform like nests are constructed out of medium-sized sticks and materials may be added throughout the nesting cycle. Nests are usually lined with finer twigs, leaves, grass, pine needles, moss, reeds, or dry gras. The same nests are refurbished and used year after year…
Most great blue herons return to southern Michigan heronries in mid-March although a few may remain through the winter if there are areas of open water. Courtship and nest building commences from early April in southern Michigan to early May in the extreme northern portions of the state. Both sexes are involved in the nest building process with males primarily gathering sticks from the ground, nearby trees, or ungarded nearby nests. Males pass sticks to females who then place them on the nests.
April 14, 2014
There’s an eclipse of the full moon tonight! It begins at 2 AM Eastern time with the total eclipse lasting 78 minutes and starting about 3 AM. While the forecast is not great, it looks like there’s a chance that those brave souls who trade sleep for a shot at viewing the eclipse won’t be disappointed.
Eastern Daylight Time (April 15, 2014)
Partial umbral eclipse begins: 1:58 a.m. EDT on April 15
Total eclipse begins: 3:07 a.m. EDT
Greatest eclipse: 3:46 a.m. EDT
Total eclipse ends: 4:25 a.m. EDT
Partial eclipse ends: 5:33 a.m. EDT
If you’re up in the Sleeping Bear Dunes area, they are having a star party tonight. If anyone knows of other viewing gatherings, post them in the comments! If the eclipse ends up getting clouded out locally, you can always take to the net and watch via the live stream from the Griffith Observatory. As I wrote about last week, this eclipse is the first of four total eclipses without a partial in between known as a Lunar Tetrad.
This photo is of the ghost forest on Sleeping Bear Point created when sand of the world’s largest shifting sand dune covered living trees.
March 15, 2014
Many have cursed the cold of this winter that is almost over now though spring seems a long way off. It has caused hardships and pain but has also given rare opportunities to many who have been willing to bundle up and seek the wonders the cold has brought about.
A few weeks ago a friend asked me on somewhat short notice if I’d join him for a walk along the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. I’d walked the cliffs above the Lake before but the extreme cold of this wonderful winter granted us the opportunity to walk on even the Greatest of Lakes. We had two nights out with no fire to warm us but it was well worth it and a most amazing hike.
March 12, 2014
The Earth Science class for educators at Michigan Tech has an online textbook on Michigan Geography & Geology that’s pretty cool. The chapter on the Ledges at Grand Ledge includes At the Edge of an Ancient Ocean that talks about the rocks that make up The Ledges and begins:
The rocks at Grand Ledge are significant for several reasons. Grand Ledge is an “oasis” of bedrock in an “ocean” of glacial drift that blankets the Lower Peninsula, providing geologists a window into the distant past. The diverse set of sedimentary rocks contains a wealth of information on the plants and animals that dominated the Pennsylvanian Period, about 320 to 290 million years ago. The characteristics of the rocks allowed geologists to reconstruct the changing environment that marked the demise of a great inland ocean. The rocks have been quarried and hold economic value. Lastly, Grand Ledge is scenic and enjoyed by hikers, paddlers, and climbers.
Nearly all students of Michigan geology make a pilgrimage to Grand Ledge at some point in their careers. Good exposures of sedimentary rocks are rare in the Lower Peninsula. Not only are the rocks well exposed but they offer an opportunity to test your skills in identifying a variety of sandstones, some shale and limestone, and even 2 coal. The rocks are exposed in a few abandon quarries and in exposures along the Grand River. To get a good look at the rocks you will need drive between exposure north and south of the river. But don’t be discouraged; the distances are short.
As always in geology, the best place to start is at the base of the stratigraphic section, the oldest rocks. The lower part of the section contains shale, siltstone, and type of sandstone called greywacke. The shale is gray and so fine-grained that you cannot see the mud-sized particles that compose it. If you are brave, you might put a tiny piece in your mouth and push it around a bit. Shale feels smooth, almost creamy, a result of the mud. The shale is also soft and erodes to relatively gentle slopes. Shale is exposed at the base of the layers at the Face Brick Quarry. Think of the light-colored siltstone as a silty shale. You might rub the rock against your thumb and see if any small, visible grains come loose. Again, a taste test might be in order. Siltstone will leave a 3 gritty feel in your mouth. Siltstone is exposed at the base of the rock layers at the American Vitrified Quarry. The greywacke is a greenish-gray colored sandstone and the sand grains are visible to your unaided eye, no tasting required. With a hand lens you can see the rock is made of a mixture of sand sizes, what geologists call poor sorting, and a variety of sand compositions, including quartz, feldspar, mica, and fragments of pre-existing rocks. Greywacke is exposed just above the beach at the Face Brick Quarry.
More winter wallpaper on Michigan in Pictures.
February 24, 2014
John took this shot a couple of months ago at Michigan’s largest waterfall. Several years the crew from Wild Weekend TV went to the falls in wintertime. They talked with Lark Ludlow, owner of the Tahquamenon Falls Brewery and Pub about the history & lore of the Tahquamenon Falls – click to check it out.
Lots more Tahquamenon Falls on Michigan in Pictures.