Aqua Ice

Aqua Ice by Charles Bonham

Aqua Ice by Charles Bonham

There hasn’t been much in the way of ice buildup yet on Michigan’s Great Lakes so far in 2021, so I decided to reach back a couple of years to March of 2019 for this beauty from Au Gres on Lake Huron. The Causes of Color answers the question what causes the blue color that sometimes appears in snow and ice?

As with water, this color is caused by the absorption of both red and yellow light (leaving light at the blue end of the visible light spectrum). The absorption spectrum of ice is similar to that of water, except that hydrogen bonding causes all peaks to shift to lower energy – making the color greener. This effect is augmented by scattering within snow, which causes the light to travel an indirect path, providing more opportunity for absorption. From the surface, snow and ice present a uniformly white face. This is because almost all of the visible light striking the snow or ice surface is reflected back, without any preference for a single color within the visible spectrum.

The situation is different for light that is not reflected, but penetrates or is transmitted into the snow. As this light travels into the snow or ice, the ice grains scatter a large amount of light. If the light is to travel over any distance it must survive many such scattering events. In other words, it must keep scattering and not be absorbed. We usually see the light coming back from the near surface layers (less than 1 cm) after it has been scattered or bounced off other snow grains only a few times, and it still appears white.

In simplest of terms, think of the ice or snow layer as a filter. If it is only a centimeter thick, all the light makes it through; if it is a meter thick, mostly blue light makes it through. This is similar to the way coffee often appears light when poured, but much darker when it is in a cup.

Definitely check out more in Charles’ excellent Michigan Winter Ice gallery on Flickr.

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Magnetic North: Northern Lights likely tonight!

Magnetic North by Aaron Springer

Magnetic North by Aaron Springer

The NOAA/NWS Space Weather Prediction Center reports that geomagnetic Storm Watches are in effect from December 10th & 11th, 2020 due to anticipated Coronal Mass Ejection (CME) effects giving us a good chance of seeing the northern lights! The CME occurred on December 7th and analysis suggests CME arrival possible late on 9 December, initially resulting in G1 (Minor) storm levels. As CME effects continue, activity is likely to increase, especially if the magnetic field carried with the CME connects well with Earth’s magnetosphere. The potential for strong storm levels exists and a G3 (Strong) Watch is in effect for December 10th. CME-related disturbances are forecast to continue into 11 December, likely resulting in G2 (Moderate) storm levels 

As a quick rule of thumb, we can occasionally see Northern Lights at the G1 level, often at G2 and almost definitely at G3. Here’s hoping for clear skies!!

Aaron took this photo  at Otter Creek in the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore back in March of 2015 & shared: A very memorable night. After seeing all 4 indicators in red on [a now defunct aurora tracker website] (and I had never seen that before), I bolted for the lake with what was an already late start. Soon after arriving I punched through the ice while jumping from flow to flow in the shallows. This was the first time I have ever shot these and despite having one leg wet to the knee I managed to stay out for five hours on sheer excitement. 

See more in his Aurora Borealis gallery on Flickr & here’s hoping for some clear skies tonight!

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Blue Skies, White Sails & Big Red

Blue Skies, White Sails, and Big Red by Bill Johnson

Blue Skies, White Sails, and Big Red by Bill Johnson

Reaching back to September of 2013 for this tasty shot of a sailboat gliding past the Big Red Lighthouse in Holland. See more in his awesome Lighthouses album on Flickr!

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Surf’s Up in Michigan!

Surfs Up by Julie

Surfs Up by Julie

While it seems crazy, winter, particularly November & December, are Michigan’s best surfing season. If you take a look through our photos of Michigan surfing, you’ll see that the biggest waves are the ones that come with snow & cold.

Julie took this on Sunday in Charlevoix when the temperature was a balmy 37 degrees. Head over to her Flickr for a shot of all five surfers who were out and see lots more in her Lighthouses gallery on Flickr. 

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A Cold Drink

A Cold Drink by Mark Smith

A Cold Drink by Mark Smith

Mark captured this shot of Lake Michigan in the village of Leland looking mighty chill! See his latest at downstreamer on Flickr.

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Restore Your Spirit on Michigan’s Beaches!

Lisa Flaska Erickson Photography

Restore Your Spirit by Lisa Flaska Erickson Photography

“Take time in a place you love, restore your spirit on the beach.”
~Luanne Rice

An excellent piece of advice, particularly in these dark times. Fortunately, all of Michigan’s Great Lakes beaches are open to the public for walking by law, and you are never more 85 miles from one of the Great Lakes!

Lisa took this photo on Lake Huron on the beach by 40 Mile Point Lighthouse. For more pics, follow her on Facebook or on her Instagram @supqueen.

PS: If you want to “virtually restore” check out many more Michigan beaches on Michigan in Pictures.

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November Gales batter Michigan

November Gales by Kevin Pihlaja

November Gales by Kevin Pihlaja

WOOD-TV has a report on the high winds that ripped Michigan this weekend:

Peak wind speeds reached 68 mph in some areas, causing intense waves along Lake Michigan. Waves at the Ludington buoy peaked at 13.5 feet.

…According to the Consumer’s Energy power outage map, 27,704 were without power across the state as of 5:20 a.m. Monday.

Norton Shores was tops with gusts of 68 MPH, and it was blowing hard in Jackson (64), Grand Rapids (63) & Lansing (54). The Detroit Metro Airport in Romulus recorded a 61 MPH gust as well. 

Kevin took this photo of waves on Lake Superior battering the Eagle Harbor Lighthouse on the Keweenaw Peninsula last November. See more in his Lake Superior photo gallery on Flickr.

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Ring the Bell for the Fitz

Ship's Bell by Bill

Ship’s Bell by Bill

Today is the 45th anniversary of the sinking of the S.S. Edmund Fitzgerald, and if you’re in Michigan, you’ll probably hear The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald by Gordon Lightfoot today. I’m pretty sure, however, that you won’t enjoy it more than when you’re watching this video.

Joseph Fulton put together this amazing tribute to the 29 men who went down with the Edmund Fitzgerald in Lake Superior on November 10, 1975. This video is one of the best I’ve ever seen on YouTube and I hope you can watch it.

Bill took this photo of the bell from the Fitzgerald at the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum at Whitefish Point. See more in his Whitefish Point album on Flickr!

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November 2020 Heatwave

Last night at a lake near you by Gary Syrba

Last night at a lake near you by Gary Syrba

If you live in Michigan, you probably enjoyed a pretty nice weekend! WOOD-TV Grand Rapids reports that record highs fell in Kalamazoo (75°), Grand Rapids (74°), Lansing (75°) and Muskegon (74°). The other locations on the map don’t have record data. Click on Detroit adds that Detroit toppled the previous November 7th record of 70 from 2016 with a high of 71. Daily records were also set at Traverse City (76°), Pellston (73°) and Gaylord (71°). 

Gary took this photo at Grand Haven. No word as to whether or not their high of 76 was a record, but guessing it was close! Head over to Gary’s Flickr for more! 

 

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Fall at Miners Castle

Miners Castle by Charles Bonham

Miners Castle by Charles Bonham

I always wondered about the whole “miner” thing with Miners River/Falls/Castle in the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore.  The Miners Falls Trail Guide explains that:

Visited by passing English geologists in 1771-1772, the nearby Miners River was named by employees of Alexander Henry during one of his exploratory trips on Lake Superior. At that time, indicators or “leaders” were used to locate mineral deposits. Discolored water oozing from bedrock was one such leader found in the Miners Basin, although no minerals were ever extracted from this area.

Charles took took this pic last week. See lots more on his Flickr

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