Shelf Ice

Winds blowing off shore moved the flow ice away from shore, leaving only the shelf ice along the southeastern shore of Lake Michigan. Following the climb up Mt. Baldy, I was rewarded with this view.

Taken from 125 feet above the water, the shelf ice looks tiny, but the mounds right at the shore are over 12 feet tall.

The usual easy walk down the dune to the beach was a lot more difficult due to the frozen sand and snow.

Into the Harbor

The Michigan City, Indiana east pierhead lighthouse stands guard over frozen Lake Michigan. Winds pushed the flow ice toward shore and into the harbor of Michigan City, Indiana.

In the foreground, shelf ice is building. Currently, it is about six feet in height, but if the waters and weather cooperate, they can reach heights exceeding 20 feet. These mounds appear very attractive to visitors, almost inviting to climb upon, but hidden beneath their frozen exterior lies danger. A 15 foot thick block of shelf ice may have portions only centimeters thick. These hidden thin areas are direct passages to the freezing cold lake waters below - with no way out. Wave action instantly pushes you away from the opening in the ice, but if you're lucky enough to find the shaft from which you've fallen, it's all but impossible to climb back up the icy walls. Perhaps you manage not to gasp and inhale water the instant you hit the lake, the shock of the cold water instantly zaps the energy from your body, making self rescue all but impossible.

When visiting the shore in winter, stay safely on solid ground.

Winter View of Kintzele Ditch

A sunny afternoon hike to the top of the dune overlooking a frozen Kintzele Ditch and Lake Michigan. The climb was made more difficult by the December storm that caused extensive beach erosion along the shore. Some of the windward portions of the dunes are now 8 to 20 foot steep cliffs of sand.

Look closely along the frozen stream, and you'll see a person walking - giving you an idea of the vastness of the shoreline.

In a little over a week, Lake Michigan changed from all liquid to flow ice almost as far as the eye can see. On the beach, one can only see flow ice beyond the growing shelf ice, but up 80 feet on the dune, you can see liquid water on the horizon. The prevailing winds pushed the flow ice against the southeast shore of the lake, creating a dramatic, winter vista.

Ice Forming Along Lake Michigan

Early January brings ice to the shore of Lake Michigan. Winds drive the floating pieces of flow ice toward the shore, while waves create mounds of shelf ice that will eventually reach over 15 feet tall.

Image requested for use on the South Shore Convention and Visitor's Agency web page.

Frost on Snow

A small stream leads into the Sag Quarry, providing just enough moisture to the air to produce a layer of hoar frost on the newly fallen snow.

The frost crystals appear to stand up like shag carpet, giving the snow an interesting texture.

The Falls at Matthiessen

Started off winter break by visiting some great outdoor places: The southeastern shore of Lake Michigan and Matthiessen State Park.

The late summer and fall were quite dry, dropping the water levels of small lakes, rivers and streams, virtually eliminating the waterfalls at Matthiessen and Starved Rock. I was surprised to see Lake Falls so full and frozen. My guess is that even a few trickles of water will freeze into the huge ice castle that greeted us early that morning.