The National Weather Service (NWS) in Grand Rapids, Michigan, has captured an incredible photo of two ‘ice volcanoes’ erupting on an oval beach in Saugatuck, near Lake Michigan over the weekend. These pictures show white cone-like structures on the surface of the lake spewing water out of the top.
In a Facebook post, Tom Niziol, NWS Meteorologist-In-Charge, wrote that they were some of the best photos of ice volcanoes he had ever seen. Explaining the phenomenon, he said that these ice volcanoes form as water is pushed under the ice sheet and as the pressure build-up the water shoots out through holes in the ice. Niziol further stated that spray freezes up, eventually building a cone-like the ones seen in the picture.
Tom Niziol further warned that they can be very dangerous to climb on, however, because they are hollow and built over a hole in the ice. He said that one should never go venturing out onto them.
"Ice volcanoes occur in locations in which waves hit accumulated ice on the shoreline with some force," said Cort Spholten, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service of Grand Rapids, in a statement.
"We were cold enough to form ice on the shore of Lake Michigan, and water had broken the surface of that ice," Spholten said. "The waves ... were strong enough so the water channels through, it squeezes water upwards and tosses the floating ice up. As it happens, over the course of hours or days, it forms a cone, and it resembles a volcano."
It was a great day to visit the beach and watch the waves interact with the ice. Here's a couple "ice volcanoes" erupting at Oval Beach on Sunday, February 16, 2020. #miwx #wmiwx pic.twitter.com/B0Vkl18RrN— NWS Grand Rapids (@NWSGrandRapids) February 16, 2020
"Today, winds from the southeast should diminish the waves. It's unlikely ice volcanoes will be seen today compared to yesterday, but it's not impossible," Spholten said. Ice volcanoes can be dangerous, especially when people climb on them. There may be no way to get out of the icy water if someone slips down the side of one of the mounds.