Michigan’s Blue Ice Has Returned | Greater Lansing Area Moms

Being raised in the mitten, we have experienced Michigan greatness for as long as remembered.  One particular phenomenon that occurs during Michigan winters is the formation of what has been known as blue ice near the Mackinac Bridge.  

In 2018, I made a day trip with a friend to see this for myself.  At that time school was, “normal,” and we just had to be back in time to catch the bus.  So with camera in hand and layered in winter gear, we headed north.  As we approached and hit the last hill on I-75, we met the Mackinac Bridge and all its wonder as it appears to curve the 5 miles it spans.

The closer you get, the more extraordinary it becomes.  We parked in a public lot on the Lake Huron side and made for the beach.  But the beach was not the beach, it was instead a mixture of snow and ice with some traction provided by the underlying sand.

There were piles and piles of blue ice. From some angles Mackinac Island could not be viewed.  I walked under the bridge – an area not always open to pass under – the ice under the drive was clear and dark and it was a little unnerving walking so I returned to the area I thought was the beach.  There was more blue ice on the Huron side yet on the Lake Michigan side there was clearer, smooth ice with large cracks and lake bottom visible from the top.

The blue ice is caused from – now know, this is a little bit of high school biology class, Western Michigan Oceanography course and MLive, mixed in with stories from the locals –  the formation occurs when the snow atop of the ice is compressed and squeezes out air bubbles, therefore increasing its density.  The ice then absorbs colors, the result is chunks of ice.  Or blue ice.  A glacial-like effect.  It does not occur annually but when it does, it is breathtaking. 

The blue ice is back!  And the size of it varies each time it occurs. This part of the process occurs – the causes gigantic piles of ice to form –  is caused from the force of the current and wind pushing chunks of ice ashore.  In 2018, it was said by a locals sharing stories in the Key Hole Bar in Mackinaw City, to be 3 stories tall. 

It is ice though.  Over a deep and unpredictable body of water.  There were people who advanced much further that I did.  No kids made the trip in 2018.  I really did not know what to expect.  After arriving, I wish I would have taken my then 8 year old.  He would have loved it.  And if I go this weekend, he is coming along. 

So far, any photos I have ran across this winter have not been nearly as large (or tall) as in 2018.  I may just have to take a little road trip and see what Lakes Huron and Michigan have created this year!.

Have fun, stay well,  Christine


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