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Lake Michigan Turns Brown After Huge Waves Last Week

Waves On Lakefront

High waves are expected on Lake Michigan. (Credit: CBS)

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CHICAGO (CBS) — The high winds that hit the Chicago area last week not only produced Lake Michigan waves of up to 25 feet, but they had an effect on the color of the lake’s water.

As WBBM Newsradio’s David Roe reports, the National Weather Service says the winds made such enormous waves that they dredged up sediment from the lake that turned shoreline waters into a tannish-brown color.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s David Roe reports


A buoy located about 50 miles east of Milwaukee measured waves as high as 23 feet at 4 a.m. Friday. The buoy sporadically lost wave height data during the period of maximum waves, possibly because of the extreme conditions, the weather service said.

But a tug captain at Burns Harbor, Ind., estimated waves crashing over the break wall Friday morning to be in the 25-foot range.

The weather service says the resulting color change was so pronounced it could be seen from space.

It took winds of up to 60 miles per hour over a 200-mile stretch of the lake to make waves high enough to make the color change happen.

The wind also set waves as high as 10 to 16 feet crashing onto the Chicago shore of Lake Michigan, forcing police to close the Lakefront Bike Trail from Fullerton Drive to Oak Street.

“I’d have to say in 13 years being out here, this is the worst,” Oak Street Beachstro restaurant owner Anthony Priola told CBS 2 on Friday.

The Sun-Times Media Wire contributed to this report.