CHESTERTON, Ind. (CBS) — The Indiana Department of Natural Resources was warning people that the captivating ice built up on the lake Michigan shoreline might be beautiful, but it can be deadly.
WBBM Newsradio’s s Mike Krauser reports shelf ice has piled high along the shore at Indiana Dunes State Park, creating a surreal scene. The massive sheets of ice stretch far out onto the surface of the lake, in some places hundreds of feet. Many areas are covered in balls of snow and ice formed by wind and waves.
In some spots, holes in the ice allow you to see multicolored pools of water.
Signs on the beach warn visitors to keep off the ice.
Brad Bumgardner, an interpretive naturalist at the park, said it’s beautiful to look at, but it can be very dangerous if you try to walk or stand on it.
“This has been one of the best years in many decades for people that like observing the shelf ice and the Great Lakes ice cover, and it’s one of those years where it’s so captivating. Yet, at the same time, as beautiful as it is it’s also dangerous.”
That’s because, sort of like a glacier, shelf ice is full of voids; some visible, some not.
“These little water volcanoes, they spew out, and you see the large cracks,” Bumgardner said. “So, literally, these ice chunks are calving into the lake; and it would be really easy to be on top of one of those pieces as it collapses.”
Bumgardner recommended those who want to see the ice shelves up should watch a video the DNR filmed using a drone, rather than trying to walk on it. (The YouTube video at the top of the page.)
He said the drone “basically was able to fly out over the ice, and give you a whole new perspective that most visitors won’t see. Done safely, too.”
Along Chicago’s lakefront, CBS 2’s camera captured people walking their dogs on the ice near Montrose Beach.
In just the past two weeks, Chicago’s 9-1-1 call center has received more than 30 calls about people walking on ice-covered Lake Michigan, and the majority of the calls have been people walking their dogs.
Even ice fishermen here at 85th Place and South Lake Shore Drive say being on the ice is only for the experienced. Bug Ashley has been ice fishing for 40 years.
“Do not go out there — la de da and all that kind of stuff — because it can cost you, your life,” he says.
The Chicago Fire Department’s Scuba Team 687 does water rescue training every day in bone-chilling Lake Michigan to make sure rescues are truly rescues.