March 16, 2013
Since I’m up in the Pictured Rocks, I thought it would be a good time to share this video of Lake Superior waves at Pictured Rocks in winter by Lars Jensen.
More from the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore on Michigan in Pictures including a feature from Lars on Miners Castle from the winter of 2006!
March 15, 2013
The Michigan Historical Marker at Grand Marais reads:
Grand Marais, which is among Michigan’s oldest place names, received its name from French explorers, missionaries and traders who passed here in the 1600s. “Marais” in this case was a term used by the voyaguers to designate a harbor of refuge. In the 1800s Lewis Cass, Henry Schoolcraft and Douglass Houghton also found the sheltering harbor a welcome stopping place. Grand Marais’s permanent settlement dates from the 1860s with the establishment of fishing and lumbering. At the turn of the century Grand Marais was a boom town served by a railroad from the south. Its mills turned out millions of board feet annually. Lumbering declined around 1910, and Grand Marais became almost a ghost town, but the fishing industry continued. Many shipping disasters have occurred at or near the harbor of refuge, which has been served by the Coast Guard since 1899. In 1942 the first radar station in Michigan was built in Grand Marais. Fishing, lumbering and tourism now give Grand Marais its livelihood.
More Grand Marais on Michigan in Pictures!
March 9, 2013
I was thinking there had been entirely too much ice on Michigan in Pictures this week. Thankfully Michael shared this photo in the Absolute Michigan pool, saying:
NE Ann Arbor ~ At 41F. our first break towards Spring… Winter Aconite (yellow flowers) and Snow Drops (white flowers)
Wikipedia explains that Eranthis (winter aconite) is a genus of eight species of flowering plants in the Buttercup family:
They are herbaceous perennials growing to 10–15 cm (4–6 in) tall. The flowers are yellow (white in E. albiflora and E. pinnatifida), and among the first to appear in spring, as early as January in mild climates, though later where winter snowpack persists; they are frost-tolerant and readily survive fresh snow cover unharmed. The leaves only expand fully when the flowers are nearly finished; they are peltate, 5-8 cm diameter, with several notches, and only last for 2-3 months before dying down during the late spring.
Species in this genus are spring ephemerals, growing on forest floors and using the sunshine available below the canopy of deciduous trees before the leaves come out; the leaves die off when the shade from tree canopies becomes dense, or, in dry areas, when summer drought reduces water availability.
The very first bulb to cheerfully announce spring is the snowdrop. As the last winter snow melts, carpets of delicate white flowers emerge through last year’s fallen leaves. Snowdrops will reliably return year after year despite Mother Nature’s most challenging winters. The botanical name, Galanthus, comes from the Greek words Gala meaning “milk” and anthos meaning “flower.” They will thrive in the rich, moist soil usually found in the shade provided by deciduous trees. Few bulbs can tolerate shade, but snowdrops develop in the winter sun well before the leaves of trees and shrubs have expanded. Their flowers last for several weeks beginning in early March and persisting through the cool days of spring in early April. Once planted, Galanthus require no maintenance.
One of the most treasured features of this easy-to-grow perennial is its ability to propagate on its own and develop into large masses. It is this trait that gives snowdrops the label “good naturalizer.” Many other popular bulbs such as tulips, hyacinths, and alliums flower beautifully the first few seasons, but eventually weaken and disappear. Galanthus may be left undisturbed for years to form large, densely packed colonies.
Read on for much more including planting tips for Michigan and a bunch of photos.
March 8, 2013
“This year we have been fortunate enough to have cold weather, lots of wind, and combined it builds ice into ice caves, ice mountains.”
~Jim Sutherland, Good Hart General Store Owner
Winter 2013 sure has been dishing up some amazing ice including the ice boulders along the Sleeping Bear shore. UpNorthLive reports on the latest a Lake Michigan iceberg floating offshore at Good Hart north of Harbor Springs.
“It was just a bunch of blocks piled on top of each other and they were welded together with the wind and snow,” Outdoor enthusiast Josh Baker explained.
Over the weekend, Baker and his family stumbled across this giant island floating in Lake Michigan outside of the small town of Good Hart.
Sunday, he decided to climb the jagged, 15-foot ice mountain. Once he made it to the top, he noticed the structure was different on the other side.
“The side facing the lake was almost sheer, it was pretty neat. So the side I was on was all jumbled and the opposite side was just sheer down to the water,” Baker said.
More ice on Michigan in Pictures!
March 7, 2013
March 6, 2013
Wikipedia’s Chippewa River (Michigan) says that the river runs 91.8 miles from its beginning in northeast Mecosta County in the village of Barryton to where it flows into Big Cranberry Lake in southwest Clare County. It’s a tributary of the Tittabawassee River and part of the Saginaw River drainage basin.
More Michigan rivers on Michigan in Pictures.
March 5, 2013
Lake Michigan Ice Boulders, photo by Leda Olmsted
Todays post is from the “Ain’t it Cool” Department. A couple of weeks ago Leelanau County resident Leda Olmsted was walking the Lake Michigan shore in the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore when she came across this incredible scene. TV 7&4 reports in Ice boulders roll onto shores of Lake Michigan that Leda took some photos, uploaded to the news station’s Facebook and:
Leda says she was shocked by the response. Olmsted explains, “From there it got like 800 shares and thousands of likes and overnight I had Good Morning America and The Weather Channel calling me, so it has been a really crazy weekend!”
Deputy Superintendent from the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore Tom Ulrich says, “It’s not that it never happens and this is a once in a decade thing, it happens more often than that, but these are very large and got bigger than they normally get.”
The ice balls or boulders along the shores of Lake Michigan are about the size of giant beach balls or basketballs and weigh up to 50 pounds.
Click to watch the video from UpNorthLive with Leda.
I looked a little further into the phenomenon and found and AIR PHOTO INTERPRETATION OF GREAT LAKES ICE FEATURES by Ernest W. Marshall in the Great Lakes Digital Library at the University of Michigan. With the help of Marshall’s information, here’s an explanation of how ball ice forms:
Ball ice consists of roughly spherical masses of slush and frazil ice that accrete in turbulent water. Frazil ice (via Wikipedia)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.
The aurora borealis are one of the world’s most rare and wonderful sights and Michigan – especially the Upper Peninsula – is blessed with more than a few nights every year when this elusive phenomenon makes an appearance.
The Library of Congress page What Are the Northern Lights? calls on NASA’s Dr. Sten Odenwald, author of The 23rd Cycle, Learning to Live with a Stormy Star, to provide insight to how northern lights are formed:
The origin of the aurora begins on the surface of the sun when solar activity ejects a cloud of gas. Scientists call this a coronal mass ejection (CME). If one of these reaches earth, taking about 2 to 3 days, it collides with the Earth’s magnetic field. This field is invisible, and if you could see its shape, it would make Earth look like a comet with a long magnetic ‘tail’ stretching a million miles behind Earth in the opposite direction of the sun.
When a coronal mass ejection collides with the magnetic field, it causes complex changes to happen to the magnetic tail region. These changes generate currents of charged particles, which then flow along lines of magnetic force into the Polar Regions. These particles are boosted in energy in Earth’s upper atmosphere, and when they collide with oxygen and nitrogen atoms, they produce dazzling auroral light.
We focus on the beauty, but as he explains:
“Aurora are beautiful, but the invisible flows of particles and magnetism that go on at the same time can damage our electrical power grid and satellites operating in space. This is why scientists are so keen to understand the physics of aurora and solar storms, so we can predict when our technologies may be affected.”
One benefit from the economic & security concerns of predicting space weather is that you can get some great northern light forecasts. My favorite is NOAA’s Space Weather Service. They reported a G1 storm on March 1st – it’s the lowest intensity on the Space Weather Scales but as you can see is still able to produce auroral activity!
Greg took this photo Saturday night just before midnight at Presque Isle in Marquette – check it out on black and in his slideshow. You can see more of Greg’s work on Michigan in Pictures, at michigannaturephotos.com and definitely follow him at Michigan Nature Photos on Facebook.
February 28, 2013
While Winter Storm Rocky hammered states west of us with high winds and over a foot of snow, it was relatively mild here in Michigan. Still, numerous schools canceled classes, prompting Lindsay Knake of the Saginaw News to ask readers if Michigan has gone soft. It’s an interesting discussion with good points on both sides. I thought that Neksom had a useful & thoughtful comment:
It’s a different world. I have no doubt administrators would have closed school a lot more in days gone by if it weren’t such a logistical nightmare. Today, technology makes the process relatively simple. Heck, most districts have automatic systems that call parents and employees when a snow day has been announced. And let’s face it – we see too many fatal accidents on days like today not to be a little concerned about safety. If it saves us from even one potential catastrophe, the mild inconvenience is most certainly worth it.
More snow on Michigan in Pictures.
February 27, 2013
Absolute Michigan has been known to hold Weird Wednesdays on the last Wednesday of every month. Our Michigan Sea Monsters post featured two denizens of the deep courtesy Linda Godfrey’s Weird Michigan, the Sea Monster of the Straits and the Lake Leelanau Monster:
The story of an early 20th Century sea monster sighting was sent to The Shadowlands Web site by a reader whose great-grandfather was the witness. The boy was fishing for perch one day in 1910 in the shallows of Lake Leelanau in Leelanau County. The lake had been dammed in the late 1800′s to provide water power for the local mill and to enable logging. The dam also flooded much surrounding area, turning it into swamps and bogs punctuated by dead, standing trees.
On that particular day, the young great-grandfather, William Gauthier, rowed out to a new fishing spot near the town of Lake Leelanau. Looking for good perch habitat, he paddled up close to a tree that he estimated to stand about five feet tall above the water, with a six-inch trunk. He was in about seven feet of water, and after deciding this would be a good place to stop and cast a line, began tying the boat to the tree.
That’s when young William discovered the tree had eyes. They were staring him dead in the face at about four feet above water level. The boy and serpent exchanged a long gaze, then the creature went, “Bloop” into the water. Gauthier said later that the creature’s head passed one end of the boat while the tail was still at the other end, though it was undulating very quickly through the water. The writer noted that Gauthier always admitted to having been thoroughly frightened by his encounter, and that the event caused him to stay off that lake for many years.
The writer added that his great-grandfather came from a prominent area family and was very well-educated, and that he knew others who would admit privately but not publicly that they, too, had seen the creature. No sightings have been reported in recent times, but who knows how many people have believed they were passing by a rotting old cedar when in fact they had just grazed the Leelanau lake monster?
More weird Michigan on Michigan in Pictures!