Monday, December 13, 2010

Wild Weather Soaks Chicago's Lakefront

Yesterday I watched as waves built and wind speeds rose, finally things looked like they were going to peak and a couple of friends and I hopped in the car and headed into the gale.  We arrived at a parking lot, only to be steered away by police who said the waves were too big and that we would not be allowed to leave the parking lot with our cameras.  We scouted several other harbors, all of which had their token police cruiser.  Finally we found a spot to slide past the patrols (who were certainly doing their job, which I can not blame them for).  We hiked a few blocks and across a wide field through storm force winds and snow drifts finally to find ourselves standing in awe at Lake Michigan in the darkness.  Tremendous waves were rolling in on the backs of one another, crushing the seawall and throwing water in excess of 50 feet into the air.  The gale and freezing temperatures would instantly turn much of the spray into snow, where it was whipped away from vision into the blizzard.
At peak there were waves in the 25 foot class in Indiana.
At long last we couldn't handle the wind chill and we retreated to the car.  I readied my camera and set the alarm for an hour before sunrise.  I picked up my photographic counter-part, Matt Messner, and we headed again into the white.  We were not impeded by police this morning and arrived at Belmont Harbor just before sunrise.  As we set up the waves were crashing in with just as much force as the night before.  All told we spent about 45 minutes getting coated in freezing spray, our cameras were fogged, iced, and every other undesirable thing that could happen to a camera.  Tripods did little while perched on ice in 25 mph sustained winds, but we made the best out of what we had.

Matt cautiously waiting for a particularly crushing wave to finish breaking, shielding his lens from the spray.

 Enjoy the images, and please go out to the lake to see just how amazing this lake can be, even if from the safty and warmth of your car.  The waves should be good until the end of the day.

These are the current observed wave conditions.  Still very impressive.

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