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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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bellabeckatoyou March 10 2014 at 4:02 PM

One year when I lived there it was so cold that part of Lake Michigan froze over and in the later part of March, I stood on what was considered an Ice berg...thought it was close to the beach shore and found out later as kids were climbing on it too that it wasn't as close to shore as thought as you could see cracks in it. Got off it pretty fast since the water below it was still icy cold. Like other parts of the midwest this past winter -- it has been very cold, snowy and icy.

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jmoore1248 March 10 2014 at 6:08 PM

Cool pics.

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byebyeteaparty March 10 2014 at 6:37 PM

Chicago is my home, love the photos !!!!!!

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kdlebeouf March 10 2014 at 3:00 PM

Burr!!! Chicago looks cool. We've had a unprecedentedly cold winter here in the South but I feel a little better after looking at these pictures. I can only imagine it's worse when already frigged air sweeps in off the ice of the lake into downtown Chicago, no thanks! I'll see my Northern neighbors in the summer, only.

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1 reply
slaterlabsmot kdlebeouf March 10 2014 at 3:14 PM

We're close to "snapping" up here! Record cold! Record snow! Why did I ever leave Florida!!

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ajr_rocks March 10 2014 at 2:49 PM

I remember all the dire predictions of the coming ice age in the 70's. I guess they were right!

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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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Gay March 10 2014 at 8:41 PM

Our dad used to say they used to skate from Chicago to Gary along the lakefront - and we never quite believe him!

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fkitcko1 March 10 2014 at 9:35 PM

what an priveledge to have been lucky enough to shoot such a fascinating awesome pic of lake mighigan

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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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Kevin Caldwell March 10 2014 at 4:30 PM

From 2011:

This week 48 years ago...
This has been a colder than average winter, but nothing at all like 1963.

On Feb. 27, 1963, The Chronicle said…

Lake Michigan was frozen from the singing sands of Pere Marquette Park to the rock-lined Wisconsin shore today.

One of the worst winters of the century has sealed the Big Lake’s 85-mile expanse again for the first time since 1936. (Note: The winter of 1962-63 is the fourth snowiest on record with 159 inches falling from September 1962 to May 1963. That winter also is among the top 25 coldest years in the past 116 years).

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2 replies
oklakoreavet Kevin Caldwell March 10 2014 at 4:43 PM

sheee quiet man, Al Gore the weatherman doesn't want anyone to know it was that cold, with ice and snow, frozen lakes, which in his liberal out-of-mind, we are supposed to be free of all that crap and having heat waves in winter

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Joebudgie Kevin Caldwell March 10 2014 at 5:21 PM

You may be right, but today we have instant and constant news through the Internet and cable TV plus weather information from satelites. The general population is more aware now than in the 60's. People want and get pictures and videos "today".

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