Bob took this shot of a photographer on Grand Haven’s North Pier with more guts or maybe less sense than most. I bet his photo was pretty sweet though!
Heather of Snap Happy Gal Photography was one of many photographers who made the trek to Grand Haven for a weekend storm that was supposed to produce massive waves. While Heather says she didn’t see anything quite as big as the the 20-footers forecast, the lake was still putting on a rocking show!
Often when I post a photo like this, I get some blowback from a reader or two who thinks that pictures like this aren’t OK because someone might somehow get hurt. Heather’s thoughts mirror my own on this:
So this guy – with his superior swimming ability, experience and thick wetsuit (with gloves, booties, and full hood + helmet) is crazy. Who would ever put their life in such danger?
Oh – all of us. All the time. Like when I drove in a metal box at 75mph on my way to take photos of this guy.
More Michigan surfing shots on Michigan in Pictures!
The Detroit Free Press reports that massive waves of up to 20 feet in height are forecast for Lake Michigan:
An intense low pressure system is still projected to slam into the western Great Lakes on Wednesday night.
The main hazard with this storm will be incredibly strong winds in excess to 45 m.p.h. at times. This will cause numerous issues, including downed trees and the potential for power outages.
In addition to impacts on land, Lake Michigan will also suffer the wrath of this strong fall storm, where waves could reach as high as 20 feet offshore. A gale watch has been issued by the National Weather Service in Grand Rapids for the Lakeshore and will be in effect from Wednesday evening through Friday afternoon.
NOAA’s Great Lakes Coastal Forecasting System has a ton of resources for visualizing live data and forecasts for all of the Great Lakes. Be sure to check out the animation of forecasted wave heights on Lake Michigan – pretty cool to watch. In case you’re wondering, the tallest (recorded) wave on Lake Michigan is 23′ from September of 2011. Of course the bouys shut down for the winter in December, and they only started measuring in 1988.
Earlier this week I posted about The Crooked Tree. While August isn’t yet shipwreck season in Michigan, the post reminded me of the 1915 novel by William MacHarg & Edwin Balmer set in the same region called The Indian Drum. The whole book is available online at Project Gutenberg (hooray for free books!). It begins:
Near the northern end of Lake Michigan, where the bluff-bowed ore-carriers and the big, low-lying, wheat-laden steel freighters from Lake Superior push out from the Straits of Mackinac and dispute the right of way, in the island divided channel, with the white-and-gold, electric lighted, wireless equipped passenger steamers bound for Detroit and Buffalo, there is a copse of pine and hemlock back from the shingly beach. From this copse—dark, blue, primeval, silent at most times as when the Great Manitou ruled his inland waters—there comes at time of storm a sound like the booming of an old Indian drum. This drum beat, so the tradition says, whenever the lake took a life; and, as a sign perhaps that it is still the Manitou who rules the waters in spite of all the commerce of the cities, the drum still beats its roll for every ship lost on the lake, one beat for every life.
So—men say—they heard and counted the beatings of the drum to thirty-five upon the hour when, as afterward they learned, the great steel steamer Wenota sank with twenty-four of its crew and eleven passengers; so—men say—they heard the requiem of the five who went down with the schooner Grant; and of the seventeen lost with the Susan Hart; and so of a score of ships more. Once only, it is told, has the drum counted wrong.
At the height of the great storm of December, 1895, the drum beat the roll of a sinking ship. One, two, three—the hearers counted the drum beats, time and again, in their intermitted booming, to twenty-four. They waited, therefore, for report of a ship lost with twenty-four lives; no such news came. The new steel freighter Miwaka, on her maiden trip during the storm with twenty-five—not twenty-four—aboard never made her port; no news was ever heard from her; no wreckage ever was found. On this account, throughout the families whose fathers, brothers, and sons were the officers and crew of the Miwaka, there stirred for a time a desperate belief that one of the men on the Miwaka was saved; that somewhere, somehow, he was alive and might return. The day of the destruction of the Miwaka was fixed as December fifth by the time at which she passed the government lookout at the Straits; the hour was fixed as five o’clock in the morning only by the sounding of the drum.
The region, filled with Indian legend and with memories of wrecks, encourages such beliefs as this. To northward and to westward a half dozen warning lights—Ile-aux-Galets (“Skilligalee” the lake men call it), Waugaushance, Beaver, and Fox Islands—gleam spectrally where the bone-white shingle outcrops above the water, or blur ghostlike in the haze; on the dark knolls topping the glistening sand bluffs to northward, Chippewas and Ottawas, a century and a half ago, quarreled over the prisoners after the massacre at Fort Mackinac; to southward, where other hills frown down upon Little Traverse Bay, the black-robed priests in their chapel chant the same masses their predecessors chanted to the Indians of that time. So, whatever may be the origin of that drum, its meaning is not questioned by the forlorn descendants of those Indians, who now make beadwork and sweet-grass baskets for their summer trade, or by the more credulous of the white fishermen and farmers; men whose word on any other subject would receive unquestioning credence will tell you they have heard the drum.
Read on at Project Gutenberg.
More Michigan shipwreck lore on Michigan in Pictures.
There’s nowhere in Michigan that’s more than 85 miles from one of the Great Lakes, and you can probably find a swimmable lake or river closer than that.
That’s something that I hope you’ll manage to do on this sweltering weekend – stay cool folks!
High on the list of “Things That I Want, Yet Somehow Don’t Have” is a waterproof camera. Lance does have one, the Nikon AW120, which is apparently not only waterproof, but also shockproof and freezeproof. Sounds like a ton of fun!
You’ll need a camera like this today on the Lakes as the winds are really whipping things up all across the state.
Hurricanes in Michigan?? from NOAA looks at several hurricane force storms and has this to say about “Hurricane Huron”:
While this storm was not from remnants of a tropical system, its development over Lake Huron had many uncanny likenesses to tropical systems…
The first likeness was its timing, forming over the Great Lakes right at the height of the typical hurricane season, September 11-15th, 1996. What started as a typical core-cold 500 MB low pressure system evolved into a warm-core system as it settled over the relatively warm waters of the Great Lakes, in particular, Lake Huron. The low pressure system actually had moved past Lake Huron but then retrograded, or was “drawn back”, to the relatively warm waters of Lake Huron. (Similar to the tropics, the Great Lakes usually reach their warmest water temperatures late August into mid September.) The storm then deepened and intensified at the lower levels of the atmosphere compared to aloft, typical of a warm-core low. It is believed that the warm waters of Lake Huron and associated low level instability over the lake were, to a large extent, the major contributing factors in this storm’s evolution. The storm went on to form a broad cyclonic circulation, including the “spiral bands and eye”, typically seen in hurricanes! At one point, the cyclone produced tropical storm force winds (39 – 73 mph) and some of the spiral bands even had rainfall exceeding 10 cm (better than four inches), causing some flooding.
This “Hurroncane” reached its maximum intensity during the day on September 14th, when a central pressure of 29.34 inches (993 MB) was recorded in the late morning by a Lake Huron buoy that fortunately was positioned, at one point, in the “eye”. By 2 PM, that “eye” measured close to 20 miles across and had a ring of tall convective clouds surrounding it, strongly resembling that of an “eye wall”. The convective showers encircled the “eye” well out over 300 miles.
You can read on for more including a satellite photo of the distinctive storm, check out Wikipedia’s entry on the 1996 Lake Huron cyclone, or go straight to the very detailed academic paper on Hurricane Huron that this article draws from.
More hurricane-like weather on Michigan in Pictures.