Check Out Lake Michigan's 50-Pound Ice Balls

By Chris Bentley in News on Mar 3, 2013 7:00PM

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Photo credit: Leda Olmstead, via WZZM

Lake Michigan has an otherworldly beauty for every season — I have never seen its Neptunian blue faithfully reproduced, even in photographs — but images taken by a Northern Michigan woman this week seem especially as though they’ve come from Hoth, not Traverse City.

Leda Olmstead told WZZM 13 the balls of ice were roughly the size of her English bulldog. Evidently a natural winter phenomenon, the boulders of ice that stud Good Harbor Bay in Sleeping Bear National Lakeshore can weight up to 50 pounds.

Ice hunks break off periodically from the large sheets that form over Lake Michigan in winter. Lapping waves roll, smooth and eventually beach them as ice boulders and "pancakes." 7&4 Storm Team Meteorologist Joe Charlevoix explained how the ice balls are made:

"The water temperature on the Lake Michigan is just a little bit below freezing, so you get a small piece of ice that forms in the water and as waves move back and forth it adds additional water and freezes in layers. It gets bigger and bigger, and eventually you get big balls of ice, that are pushed to the shore by the wind."