March 3, 2014
February 10, 2014
Winter 2014 has been a big challenge to keep up with for road crews and homeowners, and it’s a challenge that doesn’t end at the shoreline!
On Friday, Ross got a chance ride aboard the US Coast Guard Icebreaker Bristol Bay as it opened a path for shipping traffic on Lake Saint Clair. The captain told him the ice has only been this dense one other time in the past 30 years! The Coast Guard says:
The USCGC BRISTOL BAY is one of just two Bay-class cutters that work in conjunction with a special barge. BRISTOL BAY the second of the U.S. Coast Guard’s 140-foot icebreaking tugs. She is named after the body of water formed by the Alaskan peninsula which empties into the Bering Sea. BRISTOL BAY was built by the Tacoma Boatbuilding Co. in 1978. She was commissioned in Detroit in 1979.
Designed by U.S. Coast Guard engineers, the BRISTOL BAY’s primary responsibility is opening and maintaining icebound shipping lanes in the Great Lakes. Bay-class tugs are designed to continuously break at least 20 inches of hard, freshwater ice. The ships can break more than 3 feet of ice by backing and ramming. The Bay tugs have a special hull air lubrication system that helps extract the ship from thick ice and improves ice breaking ability at slower speeds.
PS: A few weeks ago I came across this video of more Great Lakes icebreaking action, showing the Icebreaker Mackinaw and others clearing a path from Sault Ste Marie down the St Marys River that you might enjoy. It was shot from the wheelhouse of the CSL Assiniboine.
January 28, 2014
As you may have realized from his last photo, Ken enjoys winter quite a lot – a useful trait for a photographer! He says that he crawled in here to get out of the arctic blast yesterday when he was exploring the ice by the Grand Traverse Lighthouse at the tip of the Leelanau Peninsula. If you want to get a sense of what it’s like right now, he also shot a fantastic video!
PS: I thought this photo was a nice counterpoint to Shawn Malone’s last pic.
January 27, 2014
Here in Traverse City, schools are closed for (I think) the 5th time since January 1st. With 4 degree temps and the wind howling at 20-30 mph, our wind chill is near 20 below. The temps across Michigan show much the same with few places in the Lower Peninsula above single digits and most of the Upper Peninsula below zero. Marquette takes the (frozen) cake with -10 before any windchill is calculated.
What big teeth you have, Winter 2014.
January 15, 2014
Ernest W. Marshall talks about a common winter feature along considerable stretches of Great Lakes shorelines, the Icefoot:
Air and water temperatures must be sufficiently low before an icefoot begins to form. The conditions favorable for icefoot formation are broad open shorelines gradually sloping below water level, and facing so that wind-blown spray is carried inland toward the shore to freeze. The character of growth of an icefoot differs during different periods of the winter. During the course of the winter the icefoot may suffer periods of denudation alternating with periods of accretion. The development of an icefoot can be held at one stage by the early freezing of fast ice offshore. An icefoot can be composed of any combination of frozen spray or lake water, snow accumulations, brash, stranded icefloes, and sand which is either thrown up on the icefoot by wave action or is blown out from the exposed beaches.
Observations of the icefoot along the shorelines of Lakes Superior and Erie indicated that the moderately steep portions of the shore were characterized by narrow terraces composed of frozen slush and brash thrown up by storm winds. The outer edge of this icefoot was often cusp-like in form, resulting from the mechanical and melting action of the waves. The inner portions of the cusps acted to concentrate the wave action, forming blowholes which threw spray back on the icefoot.
You can click to read more.
Gary took this photo at one of my favorite places in Michigan: Agate Beach on Lake Superior in Grand Marais, Michigan. In the distance is Grand Sable Dunes and the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. View his photo big as Lake Superior and see more in his Grand Marais Michigan slideshow including a shot of a staggeringly huge ice mound!
January 10, 2014
You may recall the Lake Michigan ice balls that were seen at the Sleeping Bear Dunes lakeshore last March. Well, they’re baaaaack. You can see a great video of the ball ice at Accuweather. Here’s the explanation of how balls ice form that I put together from AIR PHOTO INTERPRETATION OF GREAT LAKES ICE FEATURES by Ernest W. Marshal & Frazil ice at Wikipedia:
Ball ice consists of roughly spherical masses of slush and frazil ice that accrete in turbulent water. Frazil ice is a collection of loose, randomly oriented needle-shaped ice crystals that form in open, turbulent, supercooled water. Lumps that form in the less turbulent zones are typically flattened discs, while those formed in the extremely turbulent zone near the shoreline ice where wave action is strongest form into spheres.
The author explains that ball ice is a feature common to all of the Great Lakes and can occur at any time during the winter where water turbulence breaks up a slush layer. You can read more about this in Great Lakes Ice Features.
January 6, 2014
Some of the coldest air in decades has moved into Michigan, producing morning temps in the low teens to single digits and packing windchills over -20! The lowest temp? Ironwood in the western UP at -26! The weather has closed schools in much of the state and has every news outlet and the Michigan State Police warning you about the extreme conditions.
The Freep is reporting snowfall totals of 13 inches of snow in Holly and Waterford, more than 16 inches on the ground in Flint and 17 inches of snow in Clarkston as of just after midnight last night! They also have a collection of photos sent in by metro residents.
mLive has a nice collection of storm information. Meteorologist Mark Torregrossa says that lower Michigan will take the brunt of the snowfall, anywhere from 5-11 inches! They also have some tips for dealing with the extreme cold.
If you live in west Michigan, you may remember the blizzard of January 6, 1999 which dumped 30 inches of snow!
Mark’s photo was taken at Point Betsie lighthouse in January of 2012 and is also the latest cover on the Michigan in Pictures Facebook. You can view it bigger and see more in his Pte Betsie Lighthouse slideshow.
December 21, 2013
In addition to marking a full year of surviving the expiration date of the previous Mayan calendar, the winter solstice happens at 12:11 PM today. EarthSky has a guide to everything you need to know about the Winter Solstice that has all the details.
Time to update your background to winter? There’s 7+ years of Michigan winter wallpaper on Michigan in Pictures!