Michigan Beach Fashion: February Edition

South Haven Area Fire-Rescue-EMS by William Dolak

South Haven Area Fire-Rescue-EMS by William Dolak

We’re getting to the portion of the winter where the ice begins to build out on the Great Lakes. As a person who grew up on Lake Michigan, I’ve enjoyed the ice safely for decades & will undoubtedly continue to do so and also to share photos of the incredible beauty of the frozen lakes. I want to make sure however that folks understand venturing on the ice in winter can be deadly, particularly if you don’t take precautions. Though EMT workers know this and train to help people in peril, if you fall into one of the Great Lakes, you will very probably die. You can read more of my thoughts on this post on Michigan in Pictures.

Bill took this last weekend in South Haven & writes:

It’s 16 degrees at the beach – this is what the cool kids are wearing on South Beach, South Haven. These three are with the South Haven Area Fire-Rescue-EMS and were out to practice a little cold-water rescue, ‘cuz, unfortunately, someone is gonna need it sooner or later.

See the photo bigger in our Michigan in Pictures Group on Facebook & for sure follow him on Flickr!

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Into the frosty past

Push Ice Lake Michigan by Charles Bonham

Push Ice, Lake Michigan by Charles Bonham

The Traverse City Ticker reports that with less than 2% ice coverage so far, the Great Lakes are experiencing record low ice cover this winter:

According to Dr. Jia Wang, a research ice climatologist and physical oceanographer with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory, the Great Lakes region is experiencing “warmer-than-usual weather” this season due to a combination of weather patterns including strong La Niña conditions. As a result, the maximum ice cover on the Great Lakes is only projected to reach 30 percent this year, Wang says – “way below” the average of 53 percent. Lake Michigan is expected to reach a maximum ice cover of just 23 percent, compared to an average 40 percent.

The Watershed Center Grand Traverse Bay has records for nearly two centuries on the freeze rate of West Grand Traverse Bay, including when it reaches the freeze point each year (if at all) and how many days it stays frozen over. While the Great Lakes often follow cyclical patterns, data shows that trends appear to be intensifying in recent years – a result many scientists attribute to climate change and include categories like water levels and ice cover. That trend can also be seen in Grand Traverse Bay freeze records, according to Watershed Center Executive Director Christine Crissman.

“If you look at the last 170 years overall, the bay definitely freezes over a majority of the time,” she says. “But if you start looking more closely at recent years, we are seeing a trend of less ice cover. From 1980 to present, the bay has only frozen over 38 percent of the time. Before 1980, it was 84 percent of the time. And even when it does freeze now, it doesn’t tend to freeze as long as it used to. It might be 20 to 40 days, where it used to be 70 days, 116 days.”

Charles took this photo back in 2015 off Gills Pier on the Leelanau Peninsula. Head over to his Flickr for more!

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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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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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Happy 50th Birthday, Sleeping Bear Dunes

via leelanau.com…

The Big Sweep by Mark Smith

The Big Sweep by Mark Smith

The Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore was officially authorized on October 21, 1970 making today the 50th birthday of Michigan’s most visited national park. Our Sleeping Bear Dunes History page says in part:

Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore was established by Act of Congress October 21, 1970. Public Law 91-479 states, “…the Congress finds that certain outstanding natural features, including forests, beaches, dune formations, and ancient glacial phenomena, exist along the mainland shore of Lake Michigan and on certain nearby islands in Benzie and Leelanau Counties, Michigan, and that such features ought to be preserved in their natural setting and protected from developments and uses which would destroy the scenic beauty and natural character of the area.” The Congress also directed that “…the Secretary (of the Interior) shall administer and protect Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore in a manner which provides for recreational opportunities consistent with the maximum protection of the natural environment within the area.”

…The Lakeshore mission is to preserve outstanding natural features including forests, beaches, dunes and ancient glacial phenomena along 100 km (64 miles) of Lake Michigan shoreline, in order to perpetuate the natural setting for the benefit and enjoyment of the public, and to protect it from developments and inappropriate uses that would destroy its scenic beauty, scientific and recreational value.

I know that there’s few people in Leelanau who would disagree that the park has helped to maximally protect our area’s incredible natural beauty with over 60 miles of shoreline open & accessible to all as well as miles of forest, dune & farmland. Head over to the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore Facebook page for all kinds of 50th Anniversary fun!

Mark took this photo back in 2018. See lots more in his Sleeping Bear/Glen Arbor gallery on Flickr!

More from the Sleeping Bear on Michigan in Pictures!

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Big Red & Lunar Earthshine

Evening Lunar Earthshine by Kevin

Evening Lunar Earthshine by Kevin

Our friends at EarthSky explain that lunar earthshine happens:

When you look at a crescent moon shortly after sunset or before sunrise, you can sometimes see not only the bright crescent of the moon, but also the rest of the moon as a dark disk. That pale glow on the unlit part of a crescent moon is light reflected from Earth. It’s called earthshine.

To understand earthshine, remember that the moon is globe, just as Earth is, and that the globe of the moon is always half-illuminated by sunlight. When we see a crescent moon in the west after sunset, or in the east before dawn, we’re seeing just a sliver of the moon’s lighted half.

Now think about seeing a full moon from Earth’s surface. Bright moonlight can illuminate an earthly landscape on nights when the moon is full.

Likewise, whenever we see a crescent moon, a nearly full Earth appears in the moon’s night sky. The full Earth illuminates the lunar landscape. And that is earthshine. It’s light from the nearly full Earth shining on the moon.

Read more at EarthSky.

Kevin captured the crescent moon hanging in the western sky over the “Big Red” Lighthouse at Holland State Park. See more in his gallery The Moon on Flickr.

More of and about the moon on Michigan in Pictures!

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Night Sky & Aurora from Empire Beach

Night Sky from Empire Beach by Imagination Works

Night Sky from Empire Beach by Nicholas McCreedy

The NASA/NOAA Space Weather Prediction Center has issued a G2 (Moderate) Storm Watch for September 28-29th. This means that folks in Michigan, particularly in the northern half, have a solid chance to see the northern lights!

Nicholas shared some tasty photos of the Northern Lights from Empire Beach in the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. Click to see them in the Northern Lights/Skies of Leelanau County NW Michigan group on Facebook & you can follow him at Imagination Works on Facebook as well!

Dig into our posts about the Aurora Borealis (northern lights) on Michigan in Pictures for all kinds of tips & science behind this beautiful phenomen!

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Goodbye Summer

Goodbye Summer 2016 by Scott Glenn

The Old Farmer’s Almanac says that the autumnal equinox arrives tomorrow, Tuesday, September 22 at 9:31 AM:

The word “equinox” comes from Latin aequus, meaning “equal,” and nox, “night.” On the equinox, day and night are roughly equal in length. (See more about this below.)

During the equinox, the Sun crosses what we call the “celestial equator”—an imaginary extension of Earth’s equator line into space. The equinox occurs precisely when the Sun’s center passes through this line. When the Sun crosses the equator from north to south, this marks the autumnal equinox; when it crosses from south to north, this marks the vernal equinox.

Scott took this photo on the final day of the summer of 2016 at the St. Joseph Lighthouse. See more in his massive Lighthouses gallery on Flickr.

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Remembering Greg Reisig, a champion of the Great Lakes

A Changeable Day on the Lake by Mark Smith

A Changeable Day on the Lake by Mark Smith

This week I lost a friend & mentor, Greg Reisig. Greg was my publisher back in the 90s when I wrote for his Lake Country Gazette out of Elk Rapids. He was a man with an amazingly gentle soul who could nonetheless be fierce & determined in defense of Michigan’s environment. Bill Latka of Oil & Water Don’t Mix penned a great tribute to Greg, who was a  board member of that organization & the co-chair of the Northern Michigan Environmental Action Council (NMEAC):

Since his early days as an environmental journalist and then for decades as a key protector of trees, water, and air for all of northern Michigan with NMEAC, Greg was a fearless yet gentle champion for the environment.

NMEAC has set up an endowment fund to create The Greg Reisig Prize for Environmental Journalism to celebrate his accomplishments. If you value the work that Oil & Water Don’t Mix is doing, you should know that Greg was a key part of it. I invite you to contribute to fund the award so that future generations will know how much he made a difference every day.

His support of the campaign to shut down Line 5 brought a kind focus and keen sense of optimism for the work that kept us all going. He will be dearly missed.


Mark took this photo last October at the the Wilcox-Palmer-Shah Preserve just north of Elk Rapids. More from Mark at downstreamer on Flickr.