Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Southern Lake Michigan wave watching

Here's an interesting written article about wave watching in southern Lake Michigan in WSBT.com by Dave Stepens of South Bend Tribune :

MICHIGAN CITY — Huddled together, his arm around her shoulders, Bob and Martha Knepper stood facing the wind-blown sand and stared.

As far as they could see, stretching across the horizon, the gentle blue-green of Lake Michigan had overnight transformed into a raging white sea of fury.
Waves, many that crested around 20 feet, continually crashed against the pier and lighthouse. Waves, riding on top of waves, pushed by a constant north wind, erased nearly 200 feet of beach.

"We’ve been here a billion times, and we’ve never seen it like this," said Martha, who drove with her husband from Edwardsburg — an hour away — just to see nature at a ferocious extreme.

They were not alone.

One after another, cars and trucks rolled through the now unmanned admission gates of Michigan City’s Washington Park, headed for the beach parking lot.

Some simply drove as far as they could and stared through the windshield — most likely to avoid the harsh windblown sand.

Others, clutching everything from phones to high-end digitalcameras, leaned against the wind and tried to capture the moment.

"It’s crazy," said Sheryll Duskin, who came from LaPorte after hearing the National Weather Service warnings about the unusually large waves. It wasn’t clear if she was talking about the weather, or her desire to be outside in it.

Some, like Chris Dillon, weren’t content watching from the beach.
Smartphone in hand, he walked along the pier’s upper wall, toward the lighthouse, making it about halfway out before the waves kept him from going closer.

"You never see it like this, this early in the year," said Dillon, who lives in Michigan City. "Usually it’s only in January or March."

After snapping a few photos on his phone and uploading them to his Facebook account, Dillon said he planned to go home and return with a life jacket so that he could go farther out without too much fear.

The National Weather Service had issued warnings about the conditions along the lakefront for most of Friday morning, where gusts were expected to reach 60 miles an hour. Inland, those winds caused more than 17,000 power outages across Michiana.

By Saturday, the weather service predicted, the wind and waves along the lake would be greatly reduced, but still warned that strong rip currents would exist, making swimming dangerous.

But Friday morning, as the winds continued to howl and the giant waves rolled, no one on the beach seemed ready for it to stop.

"I think I could watch this all morning," Duskin said. "But I’ve got to go to work and get this sand out of my eyes."
This article nicely captured the mood of wave watching.  And here is the accompanying photo gallery showing some scary but exciting pictures that included the two we copied here.

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