Blue Ice at Bay City

Bay City Blue Ice, photo by Great Lakes Drone Works

Great Lakes Drone Works captured some awesome shots from the ice on Saginaw Bay near Bay City. They write:

We made our way out to Bay City State Park to capture some images of these huge chunks of ice. At first we were hoping drone photos would be the way to go but after walking around and getting up close, it was clear that ground photography was the better option.
Blue ice occurs when weather conditions — such as a lack of high winds — allow water to freeze slowly and evenly, resulting in ice composed of large crystals (unlike snow, which is formed quickly and made up of small crystals).

When light hits these big ice crystals, it can travel deep into the structures (compare this to snow, wherein light hits a sharp edge and reflects off of it right away, resulting in blinding white). When the light travels deeper into slowly formed ice, some of the red wavelengths of sunlight — which is the longest wavelength of visible light — get absorbed into the ice structure.

The blue, which is the shortest wavelength of visible light, bounces back out, meet our eyes, and results in a deep aqua color.

Head over to their Facebook for more shots and get lots more icy goodness at the ice tag on Michigan in Pictures!

Pipeline deal reached … but what has changed?

Leaving the Pipeline

Leaving the Island, photo by Robert F. Carter

EDITOR’S NOTE: I agree with the position of Sean McBrearty of Clean Water Action – this “plan” to fix a multi-billion dollar threat to the economic engine of the Great Lakes within seven to ten YEARS is wildly unacceptable. We don’t need the pittance we receive from this pipeline in exchange for the unimaginable risk to the lives & livelihoods of all of us in the Great Lakes State.

In Michigan, company reach oil pipeline deal by Associated Press writer John Flesher writes (in part):

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder’s administration and Canadian pipeline giant Enbridge have agreed to replace twin 65-year-old crude oil pipes in a channel linking two of the Great Lakes with another that would run through a tunnel far below the lake bed, officials told The Associated Press.

The plan calls for drilling an opening for the new pipeline through bedrock at depths that could exceed 100 feet (30 meters) beneath the Straits of Mackinac, a more than 4-mile-wide (6.4-kilometer) waterway where Lakes Huron and Michigan converge, officials told the AP prior to an announcement scheduled for Wednesday. The massive engineering project is expected to take seven to 10 years to complete (my emphasis), at a cost of $350 million to $500 million — all of which the company would pay.

In the meantime, about 23 million gallons (87 million liters) of oil and natural gas liquids used to make propane would continue moving daily through the twin lines at the bottom of the straits. They are part of Enbridge’s Line 5, which extends 645 miles (1,038 kilometers) from Superior, Wisconsin, to Sarnia, Ontario, crossing large areas of northern Michigan.

…Environmental groups promised a fight as rumors of the agreement spread in recent days. They contend the only safe course is to reroute Enbridge’s oil away from the straits.

“Michigan gets nothing in this deal except a continued unacceptable risk to our water, while Enbridge continues to rake in massive profits and use our state as a shortcut for Canadian oil,” Sean McBrearty of Clean Water Action said during a Lansing rally this week.

It wasn’t immediately clear whether the next administration would have legal authority to undo the agreement. Michigan owns the straits bottomlands and granted Enbridge an easement when the pipes were laid in 1953. Creagh said any effort to revoke it would trigger a lengthy and expensive court battle.

Read on for more and follow John Flesher on Twitter @johnflesher.

View Robert’s photo bigger and see more in his My Neighborhood album.

 

Breaking up the band

Ice at the Mackinac Bridge, photo by Kent Babb

Winter’s grip on Michigan is slipping early all over including at the Straits of Mackinac.

View Kent’s photo background bigilicious and see more in his photostream on Flickr.

Lots more from the Mackinac Bridge on Michigan in Pictures!

 

Believe in Michigan’s Unbelievable Places

Beneath the Waves of Thunder Bay, photo by US National Marine Sanctuaries

Emily Bingham of mLive said that she created this list of Amazing Michigan places because “One of my favorite geeky things is meeting someone from out of state and showing them a photo of, say, Grand Portal Point or Empire Bluffs and hearing them say “THAT’s in Michigan?!” So then I decided, hey, how about I just publish a list so I have all my favorite brag-worthy Michigan spots in one place on the internet?? And voila.”

Voila indeed – definitely check this out. The photos of the twelve locations she picked are STUNNING! Here’s what she wrote about the Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary:

Located in Lake Huron just off the coast of Alpena, this 4,300-square-mile protected area is one of the most significant shipwreck preserves in the entire country. More than 100 shipwrecks have been found here, making it an exciting destination for divers from all over the world.

Click through for 11 more plus a whole bunch of great photos from each of the places!

View the photo bigger on Instagram and definitely follow NOAA’s National Marine Sanctuaries for all kinds of pics of the wonderful world beneath the waves!

Big Change for Labor Day Mackinac Bridge Walk

FINAL INSTRUCTIONS, photo by Dave Trapp

Next Monday (September 4, 2017) is the annual Mackinac Bridge Walk, and you can click that link for all the details on the walk. This year is the 60th annual walk, and there will be a major change that the Northern Express explains:

“Because of threats happening across the country … We met with Homeland Security and the Michigan State Police, and it was decided that for the first time, we will not be allowing public [vehicle] traffic to drive across the bridge during the walk, for everyone’s safety and security,” said Bob Sweeney, executive secretary of the Mackinac Bridge Authority (MBA).

In prior years, the northbound bridge lanes were open to vehicles during the walk; this year, following incidents in London, Barcelona, and Charlottesville, Virginia, in which terrorists drove vehicles into crowds of pedestrians, the only vehicles allowed on the bridge will be law enforcement, emergency vehicles, and the shuttle buses that transport participants.

A total of 13 different law enforcement agencies — members of Homeland Security, the Michigan State Police, regional and local police, and the Native American Chippewa Tribe — will be on site for the event, including 240 troopers. Boats also will be deployed in the waters below the bridge.

Officials are quick to point out that there is no known threat to the event; they are simply taking precautions. Between 35,000 and 50,000 walkers are expected to participate.

Dave took this at the 2010 Bridge Walk which was attended by over 40,000 people. View it background big and see more in his Bridge Walk Weekend slideshow.

Lots more about the Mackinac Bridge on Michigan in Pictures!

Michigan Lighthouses: Gravelly Shoal Light

Gravelly Shoals offshore Light in Saginaw Bay, photo by George Thomas

The entry on Gravelly Shoal Light at Terry Pepper’s Seeing the Light begins:

Point Lookout juts from the shore on the western shore of Lake Huron, approximately half-way between the mouth of the Saginaw River and Tawas Point. With only five to eighteen feet above it, Gravelly Shoal extends some 3 miles southeasterly from Point Lookout towards Big Charity Island. To help guide down-bound vessels headed for Saginaw Bay through the deeper water lying between the southeast end of Gravelly Shoal and Big Charity Island, Congress appropriated $5,000 to construct a lighthouse on the northwestern shore of Big Charity on August 18, 1856. Work began at the site that year, but as a result of being started so late in the season, the station was not completed and lighted until the following year.

Perhaps as a result of its exposed location, or as a result of its keeper’s dwelling being one of the few of wooden frame construction on any of the Great Lakes, the station was a constant source of maintenance problems, and was not surprisingly one of the first to be automated through the installation of an acetylene illumination system in 1900. At this time an occulting white Pintsch gas buoy was also placed at the southeastern end of Gravelly Shoal to better mark the western edge of the passage between the shoal and Big Charity Island.

As a result of the combination of increasing vessel size, improvements in offshore light construction and the growing adoption of radio direction finding equipment, it became plain in the late 1930’s that the old Charity light and the gas buoy on Gravelly Shoal had outlived their usefulness, and consideration turned to the construction of a state-of-the-art offshore aid to navigation at the eastern end of Gravelly Shoal to better mark the deeper water of the passage.

View the photo background big and see more in George’s Lighthouses slideshow.

More Michigan lighthouses on Michigan in Pictures.

Night … and light

night, photo by kare hav

While the lights of distant Bay City across Saginaw Bay from Point Lookout make for a beautiful photo, I feel for the photographer who wishes they’d shut them off at night.

If you’re interested in making your community more “night friendly” check out How to Start a Local Dark Skies Group from the International Dark Sky Association. In addition to miles and miles in the UP, Michigan has six designated Dark Sky Preserves and the Headlands International Dark Sky Park.

View the photo background big and see more in kare hav’s Pt. Lookout/AuGres slideshow.