Lake Michigan ice lovers may have to wait this winter

Lake Michigan ice Holland
A 2014 courtesy photo of Lake Michigan ice at the Holland pier. (Gary Brinks)


HOLLAND, Mich. (WOOD) — While West Michigan winters can be brutal, they’re also beautiful on the Great Lakes, thanks in part to some unusual ice displays.

In 2014, 93 percent of Lake Michigan was covered with ice — the highest percentage ever documented in record books, which date back more than 40 years.

2014 ice coverage
A graph showing the ice concentration on Lake Michigan on Feb. 12, 2014.

While last winter’s total ice cover on Lake Michigan was significantly lower than normal, more people likely saw the spectacular shoreline displays that came with the season.

“Social media is a huge component of that. When we share ice phenomena on our social media channels, whether it’s the blue ice up in the Straits of Mackinac or the pancake ice in places like Grand Haven, it just really goes viral. And people are really excited and I think a lot of people don’t see that in their own real life. And so, ice, I think it’s probably always been there but its much more visible now in ways that it’s never been before,” said Michelle Grinnell with the Pure Michigan tourism campaign.

An ice-covered lighthouse.
An ice-covered lighthouse. From Great Lakes Photo.

Ice caves were one of the most popular attractions, mostly up North near the Sleeping Bear Dunes west of Traverse City. But ice balls and ice-covered lighthouses also drew crowds to places like South Haven, Holland, Grand Haven and Muskegon.

>>2016-2017 winter weather outlook

Storm Team 8 Meteorologist Kyle Underwood says lakeshore visitors can expect more great displays on Lake Michigan this winter. However, they may need to wait longer because of late fall warmth and above-normal water temperatures.

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