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patterns of ink

How fruitless to be ever thinking yet never embrace a thought... to have the power to believe and believe it's all for naught. I, too, have reckoned time and truth (content to wonder if not think) in metaphors and meaning and endless patterns of ink. Perhaps a few may find their way to the world where others live, sharing not just thoughts I've gathered but those I wish to give. Tom Kapanka

Friday, March 18, 2005

I've Been Snoped!

Big Blue-Water Brrrrrr....
[reposted temporarily for Bob]
That was the title I gave this last night, but I've changed it to "I've Been Snoped!" If you look in the comments section, you'll see that an anonymous tipster (possibly the same person who first sent me the pictures but maybe not) has added insight to this "educational post" by sending me to this
Snopes page. If you go there, you'll see even more great pictures of this ice formation, but you'll also learn why I'd never seen this phenomenon here in Michigan: IT'S NEVER HAPPENED IN THE GREAT LAKES.

Snopes is a wonderful way to check out the validity of "urban legends" and other internet rumors. I've used it before, but in this case, after this particular Michigan winter... I believed the pictures. This is a good reminder to me about the power of images and the danger of believing every "phenomenal" thing we see on the internet. That is especially
relevant after reading Part III below.

For what it's worth, I do think my explanation of how superfreezing works is still correct. (I never thought that the waves simply froze in midair.) Anyway... I saw this over my lunch break and chose to give a "hat tip" to my anonymous friend and the sleuths at Snopes rather than delete this last day of winter post. Read on at your own risk. These photos were not taken near the Mackinac Bridge.

I mentioned several posts ago that west Michigan had record amounts of snowfall this year with over 100 inches. (Are we done with snow?) It's also been one of our coldest winters in decades.

A friend sent me these pictures today. They were not taken at the polar ice caps but up by the Mackinac Bridge, which spans the watery divide between Michigan's Lower and Upper Peninsula [you know... up where Dr. John lives]. I've never seen anything like it before.

Have you ever opened a bottle of pop that was not "frozen" until the cap came off and then the liquid instantly turned to slush? That's sort of what happened here. It's called supercooling. The freezing temperature of a liquid significantly lowers under pressure; once the pressure is neutralized, the ice crystals instantly form.

The caption explained that just as water expands when it freezes, this winter the water in Lake Huron below the surface ice became supercooled and expanded to break through the surface ice, which neutralized the pressure and froze the upheaval into this huge blue-water "glass" wave. This phenomenon is common in arctic regions but I've never heard of it in Michigan.

It's hard to believe that this is near the same sandy shore and Island where thousands of campers and tourists will be swimming in three months. One more day and winter is officially over!

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