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Winter’s icy majesty helps dim its harsh side

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Shelf ice video at Indiana Dune State Park:

www.indianadunes.com/travel-blog/2014/01/23/new-video-shows-danger-and-beauty-of-lake-michigan-shelf-ice-people-can-see-it-for-themselves-at-events-indiana-dunes-state-park-pavilion-rooftop/

For more information about the shelf ice programs in March, call 926-1390.

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Updated: March 17, 2014 11:33AM



There is an intrinsic beauty to the layers of snow and ice that have enveloped Northwest Indiana this winter, making it a frontrunner locale for a “Doctor Zhivago” remake.

After months of dodging potholes, shoveling mountains of flaky white stuff and surviving school snow days, there hasn’t been much to savor.

Yet, a glimpse at a new aerial video taken recently of the shelf ice over Lake Michigan is a reminder of the grandeur and serenity Mother Nature offers.

The folks at Indiana Dunes State Park are dazzled by the formations of shelf ice that decorate Lake Michigan’s southern shore in the park. They’re sharing the aerial video, shot by Thad Donovan, president of Smith Donovan Marketing & Communications in Chesterton.

In addition, the state park’s interpretive staff will teach how the ice forms and offer a bird’s-eye view of the ice from atop the historic beach pavilion.

Shelf ice events are set for 2 p.m. Saturday, March 1, and 2 p.m. Saturday, March 22, at the Indiana Dunes State Park pavilion.

“I think there is an amazing beauty to the shelf ice. It’s an arctic-like landscape,” said Brad Bumgardner, state park interpretive naturalist. He said the roof of the pavilion offers a great perspective without the danger of walking on the ice.

Shelf ice, which is much weaker than ice sheets that form on inland lakes, takes shape as waves push ice chunks together, resulting in a conglomeration of frozen pieces full of air pockets and weak spots.

“People should never attempt to walk on it,” Bumgardner said. “It’s not stable and cave-ins have occurred recently. Warming spring conditions will only make it more dangerous.”

Nearly 80 percent of the Great Lakes are covered by ice this winter, one of the most relentless in memory. On Wednesday, a U.S. Coast Guard cutter sliced a path through the ice from Chicago to the Port of Indiana at Burns Harbor to help keep shipping lanes open.

For those keeping score, meteorologists have recorded 22 days of subzero weather this winter and Chicago has notched more than 62 inches of snow, the most since 1979. We’ve been guzzling this snow-subzero cocktail blend since December. Some areas of Lake and Porter counties have witnessed more snow than others.

The winter has also been deadly. Three people died in a pileup on Interstate 94 in Michigan City during whiteout conditions on Jan. 23.

Now that the worst seems behind us, there’s talk of 40- and 50-degree temperatures next week.

Just a few more weeks off, on March 9, daylight saving time begins and the winter’s legacy will be a story saved for a backyard picnic on a hot July day.



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