Surfers take advantage of big waves on Lake Superior

A surfer on Lake Superior. (Courtesy WLUC/Nov. 19, 2016)
A surfer on Lake Superior. (Courtesy WLUC/Nov. 19, 2016)


GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Cold air has finally started making its way across the Great Lakes whipping up some of the biggest waves of the season.

This past weekend, during the first cold blast of the year, surfers took to Lake Superior to take on the big waves crashing on the northernmost lake. WLUC-TV, our NBC-affiliate in the Upper Peninsula, captured video of the surfers in Au Train, east of Marquette, on Saturday.

A surfer on Lake Superior. (Courtesy WLUC/Nov. 19, 2016)
A surfer on Lake Superior. (Courtesy WLUC/Nov. 19, 2016)

Only the most experienced surfers should head out in these conditions. Strong rip currents and structural currents can easily overcome the strongest swimmers. Still, it’s cold air over warm water that makes the biggest waves historically on the Great Lakes.

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Large wave crashing into a St. Joseph lighthouse. Caught by photographer Joshua Nowicki.

This past weekend the mid-lake buoy in Lake Michigan measured waves of 12 feet. Meteorologists say it is likely waves of 12-16 feet were possible.

All five Great Lakes are warmer than usual right now by several degrees.This means the lakes are still primed for more big wave events. Storms with strong gusts produce the biggest waves, especially when the air is much colder than the water. This usually happens after the storm has pushed to the east of a lake.

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This time last year Lake Superior was just about to see its first ice. Lake Michigan didn’t see its first ice form until late December.