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.

1 comment:

John C. Gill said...

Great capture. Your message provides a vivid and necessary lesson on the hidden dangers of shelf ice. Community organizations along the Great Lakes need to adopt this blog post as a public service.