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!

The Colors of Cold

Green Blue Ice, photo by Charles Bonham

Apparently Charles is my go-to photographer for ice colors as his picture was used for my post about what makes ice blue or green a couple years ago on Michigan in Pictures. Then as now, I went to The Causes of Color to answer 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.

Click through for lots more about light & color!

Charles took this photo last week on Sand Point near Munising. Check it out bigger and head over to his Flickr page for a bunch more great shots of winter in the Upper Peninsula!

More winter wallpaper and more amazing ice on Michigan in Pictures.

Firing up the Polar Vortex Ice Cave Hype Machine

Ice Cave Evening, photo by Mark Miller

via leelanau.com who write:

It’s a frosty 3 degrees in Leland with winds whipping powdery snow around and more single digits & high winds driving wind chills far below zero coming over the next couple of days. That’s not optimal for driving, and schools across the county are cancelled. It could, however, bring to life ice formations & caves on Leelanau’s western shore like we’ve seen several times in recent years.

They’ve got past ice cave articles and will be posting updates right here! The Freep reports that Michigan is bracing for potentially record-breaking cold this week:

A polar vortex is forecast to batter the Great Lakes and Midwest regions Tuesday through Thursday, with the lowest temperatures set to occur Wednesday. Some areas of Lower Michigan could face wind chills as low as 45 degrees below zero, according to the National Weather Service.

That would mark the most bitter cold in years for the region.

…The polar vortex is the large area of cold air and low pressure near each of the Earth’s poles. The air flows counter-clockwise near each of the poles, hence “vortex.”

“Many times during winter in the northern hemisphere, the polar vortex will expand, sending cold air southward with the jet stream,” the NWS explains.

Mark took this back in Mark of 2014. View the photo bigger and see more awesome shots in his Northern Michigan winters photo album.

Walking on Water, Michigan Style

Walking on Water, Michigan Style by Andrew McFarlane

Here’s a shot I took while standing on the amazingly clear ice on Lake Michigan’s Suttons Bay on last Saturday with my sweetheart! mLive liked it enough to share in their article about Grand Traverse Bay freezing over (Suttons Bay is a “sub-bay” of GT Bay – here’s a map):

“Back in the early to mid-1900s the bay froze 80-90% of the time,” said Heather Smith, Grand Traverse baykeeper for the center. “Around 1990, ice cover dropped to 20-30%.”

This winter is the eighth time Grand Traverse Bay has frozen over since 1990.

The frozen conditions likely extend far beyond Power Island, at least close to shore. Last weekend, ice boaters, ice fishermen and people walking their dogs flocked to the frozen surface of Suttons Bay for some winter fun.

Grand Traverse Bay is divided neatly by Old Mission Peninsula into its East Arm and its West Arm. Its East Arm runs north of Elk Rapids, while its West Arm includes the popular Power Island and extends to Suttons Bay.  From there, the bay curves around the Leelanau Peninsula where it merges with Lake Michigan.

Happy Valentines Day everyone!!

Everything’s coming up rainbows!

Double Rainbow over the Narrows, photo by Elijah Allen

I guess one of the advantages of getting a lot of rain is that you also get a lot of rainbows! My friend Elijah took this on Monday night. The end of the bow is over the thin channel called “the Narrows” that joins North & South Lake Leelanau.

View Elijah’s photo bigger and follow him on Facebook for lots more cool shots!

Many more rainbows on Michigan in Pictures!

Sunset Waterspout

Sunset Waterspout, photo by Kyler Phillips

The National Weather Service in Gaylord has a page on the Science of Waterspouts that says in part:

Dr. Joseph Golden, a distinguished waterspout authority with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), defines the waterspout as a “funnel which contains an intense vortex, sometimes destructive, of small horizontal extent and which occurs over a body of water.” The belief that a waterspout is nothing more than a tornado over water is only partially true. The fact is, depending on how they form, waterspouts come in two types: tornadic and fair weather.

Tornadic waterspouts generally begin as true tornadoes over land in association with a thunderstorm, and then move out over the water. They can be large and are capable of considerable destruction. Fair weather waterspouts, on the other hand, form only over open water. They develop at the surface of the water and climb skyward in association with warm water temperatures and high humidity in the lowest several thousand feet of the atmosphere. They are usually small, relatively brief, and less dangerous. The fair weather variety of waterspout is much more common than the tornadic.

Waterspouts occur most frequently in northern Michigan during the months of August, September, and October, when the waters of the Great Lakes are near their warmest levels of the year. Waterspout formation typically occurs when cold air moves across the Great Lakes and results in large temperature differences between the warm water and the overriding cold air. They tend to last from about two to twenty minutes, and move along at speeds of 10 to 15 knots.

Kyler caught this spout when checking out the storm front last Monday evening. View the photo bigger and follow Kyler on Instagram at KingKPhil.

April 16-22 is Severe Weather Awareness Week in Michigan

Storm’s Coming, photo by Tom Hughes Photo

This week (April 16-22) is Severe Weather Awareness Week in Michigan. mLive reports:

The Michigan State Police are asking residents to take part in a voluntary statewide tornado drill as part of the state’s Severe Weather Awareness Week. The drill is scheduled for 1 p.m. Wednesday, April 19. Gov. Rick Snyder had declared Michigan’s Severe Weather Awareness Week from April 16-22. If severe weather occurs on April 19, the statewide tornado drill will be rescheduled for 1 p.m. Thursday, April 20.

Nearly all state of Michigan facilities are expected to participate, and businesses, organizations and individual residents and their families are encouraged to join in as well.

 

“Tornadoes can develop rapidly, with little or no warning,” said Capt. Chris A. Kelenske, Deputy State Director of Emergency Management and Homeland Security and commander of the MSP/EMHSD. “Due to their unpredictable nature, we must be ready well in advance. We’re asking residents and businesses to take a few extra steps during the week to ensure they’re prepared.”

Tornadoes are especially prevalent in late spring and early summer, and the average lead time for tornadoes to develop is 10 to 15 minutes. In the event of a tornado, state officials recommend residents find the lowest place to take cover, take shelter under something sturdy, stay tuned to local weather broadcasts and watch for signs of a tornado, including dark skies, large hail, a large low-lying cloud and a loud roar.

Tom caught this spring storm rolling through last week at the Springfield Oaks Ellis Barn. View it bigger, see more in his Thunderstorms slideshow, and view & purchase work at Tom Hughes Photo.

More wild weather on Michigan in Pictures!