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Lake Michigan sets record with 93 percent ice cover, air passengers shoot majestic photos of lake ice


Lake Michigan set a record milestone this weekend when it reached 93.29 percent ice concentration on March 9, 2014, according to the Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory. The lab, which measures the ice concentration of the lakes daily, reports that the previous record for Lake Michigan was 93.1 percent set back in 1977. Researchers began keeping records in 1973.

However, the brutally cold weather began easing its grip over the weekend and the warmer temperatures resulted in major breaks in the ice covering Lake Michigan. The phenomenon was visible from space and photographed by a NASA satellite. The ice-break was so pronounced the Milwaukee/Sullivan chapter of the National Weather service issued a tongue-in-cheek 'ice berg alert' on Sunday via its social media accounts, along with the satellite photo seen below.

Lake Michigan

National Weather Service observers were hardly the only people to notice the ice-break. The dramatic ice caught the eyes of several airline passengers passing over the lake, who used their iPhones to snap breathtaking photos of the record-setting phenomenon.

Brianna Nelson, a 20-year-old student at Loyola University in Maryland, who was traveling back to school after spending spring break in Chicago, shot two extraordinary photos of the lake. Nelson was riding aboard a United Airlines flight and used her iPhone 5 to capture the images at around 2:30 p.m. local time on Sunday. 'The view was just so amazing,' Nelson told AOL.com in an email. 'I just had to snap as many pics as I could!' See her two photos below. Nelson who describes herself as 'a fan of social media,' posted the top image to Twitter, but said she 'never thought it would be that much of a sensation or that so many different people would see it.'

View of Lake Michigan as seen on Sunday, March 9, 2014 and shot by Brianna Nelson.

Heidi Einsweiler, 31, was flying on an American Airlines plane when she whipped out her iPhone 5 and 'just happened to catch a great moment.' Einsweiler, who lives in the Chicago suburbs and works as an analyst for the federal government, was on her way home from a business trip.

'I enjoy following weather-related news and several stories came out in preceding days about Lake Michigan's official designation as iced-over at 90 percent ice covered,' Einsweiler wrote to AOL.com in an email. 'So when we approached the lake from the Michigan side of the border, I started taking a few photos of the ice from my window seat. When we got closer to Chicago, the city looked so tiny and insignificant in contrast with the huge cracks in the even larger pieces of ice, and I thought it looked beautiful.' See Einsweiler's photo below -- her description is no understatement. After she shot the photo, Einsweiler said she tweeted the image at a local TV weatherman in Chicago who then retweeted it and used it on a news telecast. 'I've been surprised and amazed at the Twitter response since then!'

Finally, Jonathan Williams, 39, of El Dorado Hills, Calif., was aboard a Southwest flight from Sacramento to Chicago when he saw the below view from his window seat. Williams, who is a director of state and local government affairs for Intel Corporation, was traveling for work.

'I had read recently that about 93 percent of the Great Lakes are frozen,' Williams said to AOL.com in an email. 'Thought it was a great visual as the plane banked back over the lake and turned back south.' At that point, Williams took out his iPhone 4 and captured the breathtaking image. Later, like Nelson and Einsweiler, he posted the photo to his Twitter feed. See it below.

Join the discussion

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gocountrydance March 10 2014 at 3:57 PM

Hey ! I really have nothing to say, OK ! except spectacular, wish she could e mail me and find out what kind of lens and camera, Just so i can learn something more in my quest for photography know how's, She did great workings, Cheers, J.R. Massachusetts

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2 replies
smt710 gocountrydance March 10 2014 at 4:01 PM

It was her I phone.

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sheinsonassocllc gocountrydance March 10 2014 at 4:31 PM

Key no matter what camera, is to hold it steady, without touching it to airplane parts. windows, etc. You would pick up vibrations. Also, I would suggest using a UV filter. Cuts out much of the blue haze.. Can get a cheap small one to hold in front of a phone camera lens. A polarizer would also be nice, if used properly, but airplane windows are typically formed stressed so a polarizer might give color streaks.

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donahuepapad123 March 10 2014 at 4:58 PM

Majestic ??? thats a strang word to discribe this ice filled scene ?? but there is alot of ice and cold this winter across the country ? BRING ON THE SPRING ............

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1 reply
griffinotoole donahuepapad123 March 10 2014 at 5:34 PM

"I wish I was in the land of cotton..."

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growlot March 10 2014 at 5:14 PM

I was born in Cleveland and lived along Laken Erie, as shallow as that lake is, it is no surprise to see such a scene, my wife lived in Monroe Mich, and also said the lake was very shallow and froze all the time in the winter, neverthess, very nice photos

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bjredmond64 March 10 2014 at 2:35 PM

facinating! i'm 72 years old and never saw this before. if it happened, we just didnt hear about it. i know i was amazed at the big ice balls that formed on the beaches. this has been an unusual winter. i do hope it is not a permanent change from the normal warmer temps.

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quiet7519 March 10 2014 at 2:27 PM

WOW.................Mother Nature, at it's best for winter, Love Chicago, wish I were 30yo

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jw11680 March 10 2014 at 2:27 PM

Looks like Detroit River?

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1 reply
bjredmond64 jw11680 March 10 2014 at 2:38 PM

a whole lot bigger.

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Bob Hill March 10 2014 at 4:07 PM

Well, one thing is for sure, for what it's worth, Chicago WILL NOT suffer a water shortage like we who live in the Southwestern U.S.

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2 replies
oklakoreavet Bob Hill March 10 2014 at 4:46 PM

only if they can think of a way to bottle that ice and sell it.

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gwhitey65 Bob Hill March 10 2014 at 7:51 PM

wasn't their a ship full of global warming or climate change (thats whats you call it to cover all bases) nuts who got trapped in the ice in antartica about 6weeks ago? and at the same time northeast and the midwest have been frozen solid? yeah dont believe your eyes or skin. just listen to your lib masters .nice to see that the leftists have completley taken over our educ. sys.

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lr27048 March 11 2014 at 2:27 AM

It looks to me like Mother Nature is making some kind of attempt to reverse global warming, maybe attempting to fix the damage. The heat caused by the excess CO2 may be triggering something unexpected or not scientifically foreseen.

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1 reply
jcrttt lr27048 March 11 2014 at 6:43 AM

Its a self balancing system where the greatest inputs come from the Sun or the Earth itself, NOT man.

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lindamermaid March 10 2014 at 2:05 PM

Ice on the Lakes isn't really all that newsworthy. I remember news stories of huge sheets of storm-driven ice plowing into buildings on Lake Shore Drive in Chicago, and the Drive being closed for days. What a mess!

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1 reply
bjredmond64 lindamermaid March 10 2014 at 2:37 PM

we are talking about the whole great lakes, not just the chicago region.

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usnww2 March 10 2014 at 2:03 PM

Am trying to think of something nice to say about
Chicago weather . Oh yes, here we go.
" Chicago is Nice if you like Ice"

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1 reply
bjredmond64 usnww2 March 10 2014 at 2:36 PM

the great lakes is much more than chicago

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