Massive ice boulders form along Michigan shoreline — but how?

Huge balls of ice have been found along the shores of Michigan's Sleeping Bear Dunes. They were then photographed and posted to Facebook by Leda Olmsted, who happened upon the unearthly scene while on a walk with her two dogs.

"I thought it was the coolest thing ever especially since I've never seen anything like it," Olmsted told local reporters last week. "I have a small English bulldog and they were as tall as her. They were pretty massive."


The photo was brought to our attention by Michigan local Steve Z., who writes that "nature is preparing for what looks like a massive snowball fight." So how did nature manage to get these balls together?

Michigan meteorologist George Lessen suspects the boulders started as small balls of ice in the adjacent lake and grew layer-by-layer, not unlike a hailstone, before being shaped and washed ashore by wind and waves. Michigan Live's Melissa Anders spoke to a local ranger about the strange phenomena via Michigan Live:

Sleeping Bear Park Ranger Amie Lipscomb said no weird weather is required to create the ice boulders. The rounded ice forms the same way the rounded and smooth stones that wash up on the beach form. Chunks of ice break off from the large sheets that form over Lake Michigan. Waves tumble and pummel the ice, rounding and smoothing edges, Lipscomb said. The waves then wash the boulders up on shore.

H/T Steve!

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