[Shelf ice photo/Indiana Department of Natural Resources]
Shelf ice has become quite a sight on the shores of Lake Michigan, and officials are warning Region residents to stay off of it. They're also giving you an opportunity to get a birds-eye view.
The Lake Michigan shelf ice that has developed this winter is both beautiful and potentially deadly, according to Indiana Dunes State Park interpretive naturalist Brad Bumgardner.
Bumgardner says people should stay off the shelf ice, which is much weaker than ice sheets that form on inland lakes. Shelf ice forms as waves push ice chunks together, resulting in a conglomeration of frozen pieces full of air pockets and weak spots.
“People should never attempt to walk on it,” Bumgardner said. “It’s not stable and cave-ins have occurred recently. Warming spring conditions will only make it more dangerous.”
There are safe opportunities for people who want a better look at the ice. There is perhaps no better place to see Lake Michigan shelf ice than at Indiana Dunes State Park. In March, the park’s interpretive staff will offer two shelf ice exploration programs.
These programs will teach how the ice forms and offer a bird’s-eye view of the ice from atop the historic beach pavilion. Bumgardner says the formations are twenty feet high in some locations. The programs are March 1 and March 22, both at 2 p.m. CST.
You can even see the shelf ice from home through a new video on the Indiana Dunes Tourism website at IndianaDunes.com/winter .
For more information, call (219) 926-1390. Indiana Dunes State Park is at 1600 North 25 E. Chesterton, 46304.