Lake Michigan and its Relationship with Ice

Bodies of water are always a spot for recreation. Whether it be swimming, boating, fishing, or studying the creatures that live in it because studying can be fun too. They are most popular during summer when the temperatures rise and everyone wants to find a way to cool off or find that one relaxing spot where they can quietly spend the warm afternoon doing whatever it is they want. In Lake Michigan, swimmers, divers, and anglers come plenty.

What about when the temperatures drop? Only the bravest souls dare swim or dive in the icy waters. Very select fish are active during winter, and if you forgot to dry dock your boat, it could get stuck on the ice. What happens to Lake Michigan during the winter months?

What is the Current Temperature of Lake Michigan?

In order to find a baseline to compare how warm or how cold it can get, we need to understand the lake’s average temperature. Of course, it varies during the day and night, and the water’s surface temperature is significantly warmer than the deeper parts.

As of this year, meteorologists forecast that the lakes would (obviously) have warmer temperatures during the warmer season. Lake temperatures during summer and spring were measured at 30 to 32 degrees Celsius or 86 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit, especially around the shores. During the night, it dropped down to 21 to 23 degrees Celsius or 62 to 68 degrees Fahrenheit.

Presently, as the temperatures drop down in preparation for the colder seasons, Lake Michigan has an average temperature of 19 to 23 degrees Celsius or 65 to 72 degrees Fahrenheit.

According to the weather analysis of last year, the lake was 3 degrees cooler than this year, on both scales. They suspect that it would get progressively warmer next year, with the cold season dropping the temperatures as much as it raised.

According to temperature forecasts for this year’s winter, the lake surface could have temperatures constantly below freezing, or just slightly above freezing. Without El Nino around, we’re going to expect cooler days.

Does Lake Michigan Freeze Over Winter?

Yes, definitely. The ice forms where the water is most shallow, so on normal winter seasons, the entire shoreline is frozen over, with the ice going as thick as six inches. This is, however, an average as actual ice thickness can wildly vary. In general, the thickest ice is always the shoreline and it thins the closer you are to the middle.

When you plan to traverse the icy surface of the lake, always remember these tips, which can save your life.

  • Don’t judge by its looks. Transparent blue ice is often thicker ice. Opaque ice is often weaker than it looks, regardless of how thick it is.
  • Don’t use ice thickness as a judge of strength. Four inches of clear bluish ice can be stronger than a foot of milky white ice.
  • Even if you’re just around the shoreline, always carry ice picks or ice claws.
  • Even if you know the place, it’s best to ask a local shop or nearby authorities where the ice is thickest or thinnest.
  • Always assume that snow-covered ice is weak. Despite the temperatures, snow can act as an insulator, which means the water below it is warmer, making thinner ice.
  • A warm winter day won’t melt the ice easily. Altering warm and cold days causes porous and weak ice.
  • When you are in a group, never walk in a line. Scatter your weight along the ice.
  • Always make sure a responsible adult is aware that you’re going to the ice, even if you’re a responsible adult yourself.
  • Wear a life jacket or a snowmobile jacket with bright colors, so you’ll be easy to spot and if you fall, you’ll easily float.
  • If ever you fall, don’t shed your clothes. Heavy and baggy clothes will actually trap air and help you float, and will keep you warm for a few precious minutes.
  • If you fall, go to the ice in the same direction you came from. It’s likely stronger ice and can support you when you try to climb back up.
  • Once you get yourself up, roll away from the weak ice. Distribute your weight
  • If you do fall and manage to get back up. Call for help immediately and go to the shore as best you can. Hypothermia and frostbite can happen in minutes.
  • When you get help, drink something warm and avoid alcoholic or caffeinated drinks.
  • Above all else, call 911 or at least get medical attention. A minute in near-freezing water is enough to cause damage to your skin, muscles and internal organs.

Has Lake Michigan Ever Frozen Over?

The lake itself has a strange habit of freezing wider during warmer winters and doing the opposite in colder times. There’s a certain dynamic around the great lakes that makes ice formation so unpredictable, some of them lasting well during summer. But has the lake ever frozen over completely?

Almost. During the early 1990’s, there were records stating that nearly 95% of the lake was frozen. It was not a particularly cold winter season, but it preceded a warmer spring. Only a visible span in the middle of the lake was reportedly not frozen.

On average though, nearly 45% of the lake is frozen during winter. Mostly around the shores, with a few small islands inside the lake responsible for producing ice in the middle.

What is the Area of Lake Michigan?

To get an idea how much ice covers Lake Michigan every winter you need to find out how big the lake actually is. Lengthwise, north to south, it spans just around 494 kilometers. Its width is around 146 kilometers from east to west. This means the total surface area of the lake is approximately 58,000 square kilometers. That’s around 20,000 to 24,000 square kilometers of ice during a normal winter.

Despite how the lake freezes over during winter, Lake Michigan’s patrons never waver. There’s always something to enjoy and something to experience.

And if you’re planning on spending some time on the lake when it’s frigid out, make sure to bring along a warm hoodie to keep comfortable out there.


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A Look at the States Bordering Lake Michigan

The Great Lake Michigan

Lake Michigan is one of the five Great Lakes of North America. The Great Lakes of North America also includes Lake Erie, Lake Huron, Lake Ontario, and Lake Superior. Lake Michigan is the only one of the five Great Lakes that is located entirely in the United States. The other lakes are shared between the United States and Canada. Its name -and everything else that shares the name of “Michigan”- is from the Ojibwa Native American word “mishigami” which means large lake.

And Lake Michigan certainly lives up to its name. It is the second largest of the Great Lakes by volume, with Lake Superior being the largest. Its water volume is an astounding 1,180 cubic miles. When measured by surface area, it is 22,404 square miles. This makes it the third largest among the five Great Lakes. In comparison, the lake is nearly as large as the state of West Virginia.

What States Border Lake Michigan?

Lake Michigan is entirely within the United States borders in a part of the country referred to as the American Midwest. Lake Michigan is shared by the 4 states – Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, and Michigan. There are major ports and beaches all around the lake in each of these states.


Lake Michigan is located at the east side of Wisconsin. The cities of Milwaukee and Green Bay have ports on the shore of Lake Michigan. There are popular lakeside beaches in Wisconsin. Some of these beaches are located in Racine, Sheboygan, and Two Rivers. Other cities that reach Lake Michigan in Wisconsin are Algoma, Cudahy, Fox Point, Kenosha, Kewaunee, Manitowoc, Mequon, Oconto, Port Washington, Shorewood, South Milwaukee, Sturgeon Bay, and Whitefish Bay.


Lake Michigan is located at the north-east side of Illinois. The city of Chicago has a port on the shore of Lake Michigan. Chicago also has beaches along the lake’s shoreline. The Illinois Beach State Park in Zion is also located on the lake’s shores. The cities of Evanston, Glencoe, Highland Park, Kenilworth, Lake Forest, Lake Bluff, North Chicago, Waukegan, Wilmette, and Winnetka reaches the shores of Lake Michigan as well.


At the north-west corner of Indiana, you will find Lake Michigan. The city of Gary has a port on the shore of the lake. Indiana Dunes is a popular vacation spot for those who like to relax on the shores of Lake Michigan. Other cities that reach Lake Michigan in Indiana are East Chicago, Hammond, Michigan City, Portage, Porter, and Whiting.


Lake Michigan can be found on the west side of the state of Michigan. Muskegon has a port on its shores. There are plenty of beach towns along the shores of Lake Michigan found within the state. These beach towns include Silver Lake Sand Dunes-Hart, Muskegon, Grand Haven, Holland, Saugatuck-Douglas, South Haven, and St. Joseph-Benton Harbor. Cities found on the shores of Lake Michigan also include Bridgman, Charlevoix, Douglas, Elberta, Escanaba, Ferrysburg, Frankfort, Gladstone, Glenn, Grand Beach, Harbor Springs, Ludington, Mackinaw City, Manistee, Manistique, Menominee, Michiana, New Buffalo, Norton Shores, Pentwater, Petoskey, Saugatuck, Shoreham, and Traverse City.

After visiting Lake Michigan and falling in love with the cool blue water, check out our Great Lakes Words T-Shirt.


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Shipwrecks, Nature and More to Visit in Alpena

Situated in northern Michigan, Alpena is a popular destination for tourists during summer. Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary serves as one of the main attractions in town. The MidMichigan Health, a rural regional medical center employs more of the area’s residents than any other location.  Henry Schoolcraft named the town Alpena, which somewhat translates to “a good partridge country”. But the town is known as the “Sunrise Side” because of its location on the eastern shoreline of Michigan. Alpena was once a commercial fishing area and host to many related activities. Today, the town is famous for its limestone quarry, one of the biggest in the world.

People also come to Alpena to explore its rich history and its natural wonders through some of the points of interest discussed below. If you’re into outdoor adventures and love learning new things, Alpena should be part of your next trip to or through Michigan.

Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary

This 4000 square mile sanctuary protects the Great Lakes and its history. Their mission is to educate people about the rich history of the Great Lakes and how it helps form the society we know today. They worked hard to ensure that these underwater treasures will still be around for future generations to enjoy. Some 200 or more historic shipwrecks lied deep within Lake Huron’s fresh water and with the help of the community preserve these priceless treasures. The visitor center also shows different exhibits for visitors to take in and enjoy. Staffs at the Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary are equipped with the knowledge to educate visitors and they’re super friendly too. Visitors are always fascinated with the history of the shipwrecks and leave appreciating the Great Lakes that much more.

Alpena Bi-Path

This hidden gem is a great place to go for a romantic stroll or a family picnic. Its view of the river is very picturesque like those of a painting. The Alpena Bi-Path is well maintained and a safe place to ride a bike or just enjoy a leisure walk. It gives you an idea how healthy and happy the lifestyle is in the area. The best time to explore the place is early morning when you can see other bikers around or late in the afternoon.

Stoney Acres Winery

This winery offers some of the best soda and wines in town. It’s near the Thunder Bay Marine Sanctuary and best to drop by to this place before heading home. Servers will let you taste some of the homegrown brewed and even have several choices of sodas for your kids. They even have chutney samples to go along with their wine.

Island Park & Wildlife Sanctuary

Another great family destination around Alpena is the Island Park & Wildlife Sanctuary. They have different types of plants and trees with markers that educate visitors. The sanctuary also has many spots for family pictures or selfie opportunities. What makes this place great is the accessibility. They have easy trails for wheelchairs and walking paths, making the outdoors available to everyone. They have labels along to way to let you know that you can expect on a particular trail.

Besser Museum

Don’t let the exterior fool you, small as it is, Besser Museum has some great exhibits for your family. Their planetarium offers some interesting shows with a presenter that is well versed in the field. It is not too crowded, and perfect for little kids to explore some of their exhibits. The museum houses a refurbished boat and fossil pit which is great for your kids to dig their treasures. Overall, it’s a nice place to visit whenever in town.

If you plan on making your way through Alpena or anywhere in Michigan while the temperature is low, make sure to bring along your favorite hot beverage in one of our Michigan D Tumblers to help keep your drink (and you) warm.


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4 Dangerous Species that Swim in Lake Michigan’s Waters

There is no denying that Lake Michigan is one of the most picturesque places in the world. Many fall in love with its serene yet unpredictable beauty. In return, the lake gave an abundant harvest of fishes and other scrumptious seafood. Its shores littered with pristine beaches, numerous attractions, and colorful towns to visit. However, Lake Michigan hides some of the deadliest animals on earth. When you’re visiting the lake wearing one of our Great Lakes Words T-Shirts, make sure to keep an eye out for these 4 creatures that could be lurking underwater, though chances are very low that you’ll ever have an encounter with one.


Snakesheads have really sharp teeth, grow 3 feet long, and they can ‘walk’ on land for 7 days.  They use their fins to ‘walk’ from one body of water to another as they find food. Their feeding time means devouring everything in their paths leaving nothing behind. Once they run out anything to eat, they move on to the next body of water ready to consume everything again. How bad are snakeheads? The Maryland Department of Natural Resources once offered $200 gift cards for each snakehead caught dead.


Although there had no official reports of Piranha in Lake Michigan, they sometimes turn up in small lakes around the Midwest. Most recent discovery are Pacus, a close relative of piranha was caught in Lake St. Clair in Port Huron in southeastern Michigan. This fish species is very popular among aquarium fanatics because of their human-like teeth. A native of South American countries, they can thrive on cold waters of Lake Michigan and alarmingly so. Many Michigan anglers are reeling in Pacus along with their catch. The fish most like made its way on the lakes when the owner decided to let them run free. Talk about being responsible pet owners.

Sea Lamprey

Sea lamprey is a parasitic fish native to the northern and western Atlantic Ocean. It is another example of ocean fish that learned to adapt to its environment. They are now swimming in the freshwater of Lake Michigan. In the 1950s, there had been great infestations of sea lamprey in the lake. These parasitic fish have an eel like body and a mouth filled with numerous teeth. They feed on their prey by latching onto the body and grinding a hole with its rough tongue. If that is not scary, I don’t know what is.

Bull Shark

There had been unconfirmed reports that Bull Sharks was once caught in Lake Michigan in the mid-1950s. But the reports are somewhat blurry and there is no concrete proof to verify the attack. On the other hand, the Conservation Report claimed that Bull Sharks are not limited living on the salt water. Due to the shark’s impressive adaptation, it can swim to fresh water. Bull sharks have been recorded to swim into the Mississippi River and as far as north of Minnesota. An angler once caught a 5-foot Bull Shark in Alton, Illinois in the outskirt of St. Louis.

For now, it is unlikely to find Bull Shark anytime in Lake Michigan because of the low water temperature. However, due to Global Warming, these sharks might find its way into the Lake. In summer of 2012, the water temperature of Lake Michigan reached a scorching hot of 80 degrees. The once-rare occasion of finding Bull Sharks will likely become a common occurrence in the lake.

The Real Danger

If you’re planning to spend some time on -or in- Lake Michigan, you really don’t have much to worry about when it comes to the sea life. However, make sure to pay attention to the lake’s rip tide reports for the day you’re heading out.


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Why Haven’t You Visited Alma Yet?

Alma is the biggest city in Gratiot County in Michigan. Residents of Alma love their annual Highland Festival. The festival is full of fun with Scottish clans gathering for bagpipes, a lot of dancing, a celebration of friendship, caber tossing and, of course, kilts. But before it happens, there are some spots in Alma that you may want to try to get a real taste of the city’s hospitality, some excellent homegrown Michigan cuisine, and some wonderful outdoor activities.

Apple Barrel Cider Mill

If you like an alternative in the mainstream mills that’s always packed with people, Apple Barrel Cider Mill serves as a prime example. They make their cider with old school presses just beside a window where you can watch them do it. Locals will tell you to visit the place as it’s one of best destinations near Alma. The place has a unique homey décor with hand-hewn barn beams and different antiques hanging on the walls. They also serve great donuts paired with a free coffee. The Apple Barrel Cider Mill also has goodies like homemade pies, fudge, and cheese. It is one of the great places to buy Michigan-made products and you can’t beat their cider slush during the summer.

Fred Meijer Heartland Trail

This town gem brings out beautiful scenery for every season. The Heartland extends from Greenville to Edmore going through Alma. It’s a destination itself, where the bike trails are easy to navigate with within a thriving wildlife sanctuary. Don’t get too surprised if you meet deer, turkeys, and other migratory birds along the trail. Park benches and shady parts of the trail offers a great resting place for bikers and hikers alike. And if you do attempt to bike this lengthy trail sometime soon, make sure to keep warm with a Michigan bike crank hoody.

Great Wall

Once you get those hearts pumping, it might be time to refuel that lost energy. Great Wall is an excellent Chinese restaurant which offers great food choices for your tired body. There are several restaurants in town, but this one stands out from the rest. The restaurant is a local staple if you need comfort food along the way. They offer meals that everyone in the family will love, even those picky eaters. They only serve the fresh ingredients with great flavors on all their dishes. It’s a family-owned restaurant, very clean and the staff is friendly and trustworthy, so feel free to ask for their favorite plates. Great Wall is known for their fast service and consistently good food. If you can’t come to their restaurant, you can also grab one of their take-out meals and it never disappoints.

Alma Brewing Co

Whether you are on a casual date night or out with longtime friends, Alma Brewing Co can satisfy your cravings. They have good sliders, tasty burgers, and great salads. If you love beer, they also have an excellent selection of brews that are great any time of day. Their friendly staff can suggest what beer goes best with their menu. Staffs are trained to get your orders spot on and always quick to serve. Alma Brewing Co is a great place to relax, enjoy good food and chat with friends. Their micro-brewed ale and wine make a perfect getaway.


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Why Livonia Should be a Stop on Your Michigan Vacation

Livonia is located at the northwest end of Wayne County in Michigan. It’s a large suburb with traditional American neighborhoods built in the 1950s and 1960s. The municipality is part of Metro Detroit with a population of 96,942, making it as the 9th largest municipality in Michigan.

Whether briefly stopping to stretch your legs after a long drive or taking in all of Michigan, here is a list of attractions to visit in Livonia.

Motor City Comic Con

Every year, children of all ages and young at hearts anticipate Motor City Comic Con in this part of the country. It’s a three-day event usually held in May at the Suburban Collection Showplace. People love to go here because of the wide array of vendors. Pop Funkos is a real thing here, from The Walking Dead, Alice in Wonderland to the ever popular Game of Thrones. Get the inner nerd out of you finding rare comics books in a sea of hundreds.

Firearms Exchange

Want to master your shooting skills? Head on to Firearms Exchange and let them show you how it’s done- properly and safely. Safety is their top priority as they will assists you in almost everything that you need, even if you are a pro. Most people recommend the place because of their professionalism and politeness. They even have a gun cleaning room loaded with free supplies. Their prices are relatively fair for their service and well worth checking out if you’re spending time in Livonia or have time to head there from Detroit.

Brightly Twisted

For a more artistic destination that everyone will love, try to get your hands dirty in a good way. Brightly Twisted offers dye sessions on their locally made scarf. Tie-dye was a popular fashion back in the 1990s. It now evolved into a modern work of art and some even made it in mass production like Brightly Twisted. It’s a perfect souvenir for the trip. In every scarf you dye, you are making a personalized memento to take home with you.

Roush Automotive Collection

Marvel in some of the most interesting cars built by man. The Roush Automotive Collection featured an all all-electric car from the 1900s. They also have a brand new Ford GT from the actual NASCAR race cars.  You can walk around the vicinity and take as many pictures as you like. Another helpful thing about the museum is they have signage with a brief description of every car. Smaller kids can learn a thing or two about automobiles while you can admire them as a great piece work of art.

Visit Farmer’s Markets

A trip to another place is not complete without loading your car with fresh produce from one of their farmer’s markets. It is a great way to enjoy local products while learning the authentic culture of a town. Farmer’s markets always offer great multicultural cuisines and the best delicacies you’ll find in the area. You can chat about how they grow their own products or how they started selling their amazing dishes, the possibilities are endless. Some of the best known in and around Livonia are Farmington Farmers & Artisans Market, Fresh Thyme Farmers Market – Farmington, Northwest Detroit Farmers’ Market, and City of Wayne Farmers Market.

Those of you from Livonia or Michigan who want to show some love for your place of origin ought to check out our Michigan Natve Unisex T-Shirt.


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More to Grosse Pointe Park than Meets the Eye

Located in Michigan, Grosse Pointe Park has a population of 11,555. It’s bordering towns are Detroit and Lake Saint Clair. Most people refer Grosse Pointe Park as GPP or The Park. But locals call the area from Alter Road to Nottingham the “Cabbage Patch” due to the area’s duplex style houses.

The unofficial colors of Grosse Pointe Park are Pink and Green which signifies the classy lifestyle of GPP residents. A film called “Grosse Pointe Blank” was set in town. But in reality, the town only gets 11 seconds of fame in the film’s footage. Grosse Pointe has 5 cities – namely Grosse Pointe Park, Grosse Pointe Farms, Grosse Pointe City, Grosse Pointe Shores, and Grosse Pointe Woods. Each has its own Police and Fire Departments.

The town has some of the safest road conditions in the region. Likewise, students of Grosse Pointe public schools do not use school buses. They either walk or their parents drop them off. The famous Edsel Ford and his descendants still live in GPP. During the Great Depression, the town was very popular because of its closeness to the Canadian border.

Although GPP is a small town, it is packed with attractions worthy of a visit while on vacation in Michigan. Here are some them:

Edsel and Eleanor Ford House

Visit the well-known house of Edsel and Eleanor Ford. Spend the day walking around the beautiful grounds for a beautifully serene experience. There are tours that offer educated guides for visitors. These guides are well knowledgeable and entertain questions from visitors. They have an onsite restaurant that serves delicious food, meaning you won’t have to leave the grounds for a great meal. Aside from their lovely home, the home offers a beautiful garden that’s worth taking the time to explore. The location also shines during the Christmas season as they put up a great display that adorns the garden.

Saint Paul Catholic Church

Located at 157 Lake Shore Rd deep in the suburb of Grosse Pointe Farms, Saint Paul Catholic Church is a landmark you should not miss. Marvel at its architectural design and intricate interior. If you have any interest in architecture, historical locations or just like exploring Michigan, this is a stop you need to make.

Riverfront-Lakewood East Park

Riverfront-Lakewood East Park is a beloved park in Grosse Pointe Park because it’s peaceful and a perfect place to train dogs. The park is a nice place to enjoy an afternoon walk or jog to shake those calories off. You can also find a nice picnic spot for your family and let the kids experience the outdoors. There are no official recreational activities in the park, but fishing is really popular in there so be sure to bring your pole if you have one. Locals and tourists position themselves at the seawall in high hopes of getting the biggest catch of the day.

Dossin Great Lakes Museum

Before leaving town, make time to visit the Dossin Great Lakes Museum. The museum displays some of the most important historical moments of the Great Lakes. They also have exhibits that tackle the rich history of the shipping industry. For a small museum, you’ll be surprised to find out it has so much to offer. There are picnic spots and fishing ports nearby, which are an added bonus for you anglers out there.

And if you do end up fishing around Grosse Pointe Park, make sure to don your Michigan Fishing Hoodie to keep warm as the temps start to come come down.

Image By Andrew Jameson - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,


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