Saturday, February 21, 2015

Deep Freeze

We've been in a deep freeze this past week.  And it will continue into next.  I don't ever recall experiencing temperatures as low as 15 to 20 degrees below zero, but that is what the weather service registered a few days ago.  Of course, those frigid temps resulted in Grand Traverse Bay freezing over for the second year in a row.  The last time we've had back-to-back years of frozen bay was 21 years ago, in the winters of 1993-1994.

I had an appointment in Traverse City so I decided to pack my camera gear and see for myself what the frozen bay looked like.  Taking pictures in the extreme cold presents some challenges as condensation can form on the camera and lens when it goes from a warm place inside a car to the frigid outdoors.  I tried to make the camera as comfortable as I could by keeping my window down to better equalize the inside and outside temperatures.  People probably thought I was nuts driving around with my windows down in sub-zero temperatures.  This particular day was truly gray with little contrast evident between the sky and snow.  The view across the bay was surreal, like what I'd imagine a moonscape to look like.  I can almost see Neil Armstrong waddling across the frozen tundra in his spacesuit.

The day was not only cold and gray, it was moody too.  When I went into my appointment, it was gray and cloudy.  But when I came out, the sky had turned a brilliant blue and was dotted with white puffy clouds.  Because the bay is considered frozen when the ice mass reaches Power Island, I decided to take a drive out on Old Mission Peninsula via Peninsula Drive to photograph the ice field up to Power Island, which is just south of Bowers Harbor.  Almost immediately after driving out on this other peninsula, however, nature's mood shifted and the skies grayed over.

The closer I got to Power Island, the worse the conditions became. Whether it was low-hanging clouds, fog, or snow, the large island was getting more and more occluded from view.  And this island is not just a dot in the bay; it's over 200 acres in size with over three miles of waterfront shoreline.

As I pulled even with the island, it was barely visible.  I took one final shot and headed back to Traverse City and then home to Northport via M-22 on the Leelanau Peninsula.

As I rounded the corner into the village of Omena, the weather's mood changed again, and blue sky appeared above frozen Omena Bay.

But the reprieve from gray skies didn't last long so I headed for Northport.

Driving through town, I noticed the Mill Pond had frozen over and was pristine with the newly fallen snow.

At the beach, the ice sheet extended across Northport Bay as far as I could see.

Wanting a higher vantage point, I went to the top of Braman Hill, where I'd seen only open water on January 31.  But today, ice completely filled the bay and surrounded Northport Point.

On my last stop before home, I could see the Bight was also completely frozen and snow covered.  I was struck by the fickleness of the day's weather moods, and its raw beauty.


  1. Wonderful series, Karen! Although I confess that by the time I reached the last image, I felt an impulse to don gloves and a coat! Brrrr! The shot of the Northport beach and the very last one are my favorites, but I enjoyed and admired them all.

    1. Thanks, Jan. I appreciate your visit and your comments. That little red-roofed gazebo can sure enliven an image. While I've used it several times before, it sure brings some nice contrast to an almost all white scene. Karen

  2. You are making me shiver!!! I admire your courage in driving with windows down, Karen. That is dedication!

  3. It's been a shivering kind of week! It's currently -4 below zero with a wind chill of -20 below zero...and not much of a warm up expected for the whole week.