Parkgoers Spot Thousands of Rare Ice Balls Along Lake Michigan Shore

by Matthew Memrick
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Spectators at one Lake Michigan park got to see thousands of rare ice balls and a few icy “volcanoes” on the shore recently.

As temperatures reached the teens, several frozen “volcanoes” formed near Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore.

Check out the video of the natural winter creations here.

The northwest Michigan park is close to a 4-hour, 30-minute drive from Detroit.

Resident Catches Phenomenon On Video

Hal Sorstokke got lucky, catching the ice balls as they rolled in the surf of the Great Lake. The 60-year-old man has witnessed the effect before, but he’s confident they’re among the largest ones he’s witnessed.

“They are fun to see rolling around,” Sorstokke told the Detroit Free Press. “I don’t think they last very long.”

He told Fox News that he saw some as big as 36-inches round. To picture that visually, it’s about the size of an exercise ball or beach ball.

First, you need a little bit of cold air, water, and wind. And it’s not like making snow creme. You can’t add in the chocolate chips.

Anyway, the cool-looking effect happens when ice sheets and slush form along the lake. Then, chunks break from the sheets and end up in the water. Waves roll the pieces into spheres, and as ice builds, the balls keep growing in size.

Some say this rarity only happens a few times worldwide each year. Recently, Canadian residents along Lake Manitoba saw the winter effect. Sometimes they can be found at beaches in Germany, Russia, and Scandinavia. 

Ice Volcanoes Show Up in Lake Michigan, Too

Sorstokke also captured video of miniature-looking icy “volcanoes” along the banks of the lake.

Yeah, there’s no lava involved, but waves shooting through the “volcano” shafts made of ice. 

Sorstokke said he’s always working to capture nature’s majestic creativity, but he won’t get too close.

He told the Detroit Free Press that anyone wanting to get a closer look should know that the ice on the lake near them is soft. So, in other words, watch your step. 

Two years ago, Holland State Park officials got photos of the slush balls along the lake. 

Department of Natural Resource supervisor Sean Mulligan observed the ice balls, took a few photos and posted them online.

“I had heard of them before, but I hadn’t ever seen them,” Mulligan said.

Iceballs, European Style

In 2019, photos from a Finland beach showed thousands of egg-shaped balls of ice. An amateur photographer named Risto Mattila caught the “ice eggs” on Hailuoto Island. The spot is between Finland and Sweden in the Gulf of Bothnia. 

“I was with my wife at Marjaniemi beach. The weather was sunny, about -1C (30 degrees Fahrenheit) and it was quite a windy day,” Mattila told the BBC. “There we found this amazing phenomenon. There was snow and ice eggs along the beach near the waterline.”

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