The Ice is Beginning to Form

The Ice Begins to Form

The new year brought some frigid weather to the southern Lake Michigan area, enough to begin the creation of some thick ice on the pier and catwalk of the St. Joseph, Michigan lighthouse. Typically, the ice begins to form much earlier in the season - sometimes in late November - but this winter, conditions weren't right until now.

Conditions include very cold temperatures, winds high enough to churn up waves that crash into the pier and lighthouse, and a liquid lake (not frozen yet) so waves can build up. A layer of ice on the lake prevents the water from splashing up, so later in the winter when the lake usually freezes over, ice rarely builds on the lighthouses.

Frozen Pier

While the ice hasn't yet covered the lighthouse, it is beginning to freeze the surfaces of the pier, railings, and catwalk. The ice on the railings is already about two feet thick may continue to build depending on how conditions are in the future.

Many years ago, winters along the Lake Michigan shoreline were generally lonely, very few people ventured to view the lighthouses or ice along the shore. In recent years, however, crowds of people brave the cold weather to experience the ice formations. As long as the everyone keeps off the ice, it's a great thing to see. 

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