10 Stunning Photos of Rare Weather Events Over Lakes | LakeWizard

Key Takeaways

  • Rare weather events over lakes offer mesmerizing visuals and intriguing science.
  • Photographs capture fleeting, dramatic interplays between atmosphere and earth.
  • Understanding these events enriches our appreciation for nature's diversity.

Ever witnessed a weather wonder?

Lakes are more than just serene water bodies; they're stages for some of the most extraordinary weather events.

Imagine the shores of a lake suddenly adorned with intricate sculptures of ice, or the water surface erupting with ghastly shapes amid a thunderstorm—these are not scenes from a fantasy film but rare climatic spectacles that occur right here, on our beautiful planet.

Lakes around the globe are prime settings for these dramatic displays, hosting events from awe-striking auroras to gravity-defying waterspouts.

It's not just about the visual treat; each phenomenon often tells a unique story of the intricate dance between atmospheric conditions and our incredible landscapes.

By appreciating these moments through photography, we capture a fleeting intersection of art and science.

You're in for a visual feast, seasoned with a sprinkle of insights into the 'how' and 'why' behind each of these meteorological marvels.

Our aim?

To spark your curiosity and provide a window into the powerful forces that shape our natural world.

With trust in the facts and beauty in the sights, let's embark on this picturesque journey together.

Table of contents


Lake Superior, Michigan - Giant Wave During November Gale

Ever experienced the awesome might of nature's aquatic giants?

If not, let me introduce you to the gales of November on Lake Superior, where waves can become towering monsters of the Great Lakes.

Why does November stir up such storms?

Well, late autumn brings colder air sweeping over the relatively warm waters of Lake Superior.

This temperature clash, mixed with the lake's vastness and depth, whips up wind speeds and, with it, wave heights that can be awe-inspiring—and a little terrifying, to be honest.

It's not just an impressive sight; history carries somber tales of these gales.

These waves have sunk hundreds of ships, particularly during the storm-ridden years of the late 1800s and early 1900s.

The fateful gale in November 1905, for instance, damaged or sunk a staggering 29 ships and claimed 78 lives.

Fast forward to November 10, 1975, and you have the tragedy of the SS Edmund Fitzgerald, which met its end without even a distress signal, taking all 29 crew members down into the cold depths.

But let's pivot back to our incredible photo.

You're looking at one of these legendary waves—a snapshot that captures the raw, unbridled power that Lake Superior wields during these autumn gales.

It's a moment frozen in time, where the might of the elements is neatly framed for your awe, but don't let the beauty deceive you, it's nature's powerful reminder of respect.

So, got your curiosity piqued?

Remember, such sights are a once-a-year spectacle each November.

Just imagine, cozying up by a fire, witnessing the gale-force winds driving those giant waves, all from the safety of a lakeside lodge.

It's nature's drama at its most primal, and you could be in the audience.

Lake Erie, Ohio - Ice Formations During Cold Snap

Ever walked by a frozen lake and felt like you've stepped into a fairy tale?

That's exactly what you might've felt if you were strolling along Lake Erie's shores this winter.

When a fierce cold snap hit Ohio, Lake Erie transformed into a winter wonderland that had locals and weather enthusiasts buzzing!

What Happened?

A blast of arctic air, coupled with strong winds, caused a rapid growth in ice coverage across the lake.

Can you imagine braving the chill to catch a glimpse of this frigid beauty?

  • Ice Shelves: Just picture those ice shelves extending into the lake, looking like nature's art installation.
  • Giant Boulders: Photos popped up showing boulders usually hidden beneath the lake's surface, unveiled by the storm's powerful forces.
  • Sunken Formations: Have you heard about the sunken formations making an unexpected appearance? It’s like a page from a history book coming to life!

Remarkably, this isn't just a visual spectacle.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory keeps an eye on these events, and they noted a significant increase in ice coverage during this period.

If you stumbled upon these icy scenes, it definitely warranted a photo or two.

And for those with a penchant for rare phenomena, snapshots of these formations against a fiery sky turned a cold day into a warm memory.

So, you're probably wondering just how common is this spectacle?

Well, it takes just the right mix of tempestuous weather to bring Lake Erie's hidden gems to the spotlight.

But when it does, it's a reminder of the powerful dance between nature and the elements.

Stay warm, and keep your camera ready!

Lake Superior, Michigan - Microburst and Waterspout

Have you ever witnessed the wild weather that Lake Superior can dish out?

Just imagine looking out over the water and seeing a tornado-like funnel reaching down from the clouds.

That's a waterspout for you!

They form when cold air moves over the warm water, creating a spinning column of air.

I know, it’s like Mother Nature decided to put on a magic show right there on the lake!

But wait, there's more!

Picture this: the sky above you turns dark as a microburst releases its fury, akin to a bucket of water being overturned in the heavens.

The wind roars as it hits the water's surface, spreading outwards in all directions.

This intense downward wind phenomenon is the opposite of a waterspout; instead of twirling up, it’s a forceful downward blast.

Photo: A breathtaking scene as a waterspout looms over Lake Superior, merging the calm with the storm.

Did you know that some adventurous souls have braved the perimeter of Lake Superior in record time?

With 1,729 miles of shoreline, including all the twists and turns, someone actually circled the entire lake on a motorcycle in just 21 hours.

Can you believe it?

In summary, Lake Superior isn't just a serene destination, it's a showcase of some pretty outstanding weather events.

From spirited waterspouts to fierce microbursts, this lake offers a spectacle that’s both thrilling and humbling.

Next time you're gazing at its vastness, remember the power it harnesses and stay safe while enjoying the view!

Lake Tahoe, California/Nevada - Lenticular Clouds

Have you ever gazed up at the sky to see something that looks straight out of a sci-fi flick?

If you're around Lake Tahoe, you just might!

This stunning lake, straddling the border between California and Nevada, is occasionally graced by lenticular clouds.

What's so unique about these clouds?

  • They resemble UFOs, thanks to their smooth, lens-like shape.
  • Rare treat: Appearing around three times yearly, these clouds are a special sight for Tahoe locals and visitors.

Seeing is believing, right?

Picture this: an enormous lenticular cloud hovering eerily still over Lake Tahoe's serene blue waters.

Below, the Sierra Nevada mountains provide a dramatic backdrop, enhancing the cloud's otherworldly vibe.

You might rub your eyes, but yes, it's all natural!

Quick Facts:

  • When? Think about a year's calendar, and you'll likely catch this event three times.
  • Where? Over Lake Tahoe's expanse, with the Sierra Nevada as guests of honor.

Capturing such a moment can be an adventure itself.

Photographers and sightseers sometimes wager on where the best vantage point might be, with spots like Emerald Bay often winning the bet.

After all, it's not just about seeing the clouds; it's about finding that perfect angle that gives life to the experience.

So, next time you're near Lake Tahoe, why not keep your eyes peeled for these atmospheric wonders?

Take your camera, gather some patience, and you may just capture a glimpse of this sky-high spectacle.

Remember, good things come to those who wait... and look up!

Lake Michigan, Illinois - Shelf Cloud

Have you ever watched the sky turn into a theatrical stage right before a storm?

Picture this: Lake Michigan, a serene giant, suddenly graced by a shelf cloud so magnificent it could easily be mistaken for a scene from a Hollywood blockbuster.

What is a shelf cloud, you ask?

Well, it's like nature's own curtain call before a tempest.

It's a low, horizontal, wedge-shaped cloud that appears to be 'rolling' towards you.

And when it sets its sight on Lake Michigan, the spectacle is unforgettable.

Here's the scene:

  • The sky: An ominous layer of clouds stretching far and wide.
  • The lake: Calm before the arrival of the shelf cloud, reflecting the dramatic skies.
  • The air: A notable drop in temperature, teasing the senses with the anticipation of a storm.

Fun fact: Shelf clouds often herald the arrival of a thunderstorm, and Illinois sees its fair share.

These clouds form on the leading edge of a gust front, where cool air from an approaching storm meets warm air from the lake's surface.

Witnessing this event:

  • You'll feel a sudden gust of wind.
  • Your hair might whirl about as if dancing with excitement.
  • And then, the moment: A mesmerizing, massive shelf cloud rolling in, dark and dense, above the glistening waters of Lake Michigan.

Remember, while shelf clouds might look menacing, they don't usually indicate a severe threat.

Still, it's wise to head indoors when you see one — better safe than sorry, right?

So, grab your camera the next time the skies begin to tell a story over Lake Michigan, because you never know when you'll get to capture a rare weather phenomenon like this one.

Trust me, your Instagram followers will thank you!

Lake Geneva, Wisconsin - Fogbow

Have you ever seen something in the sky that's almost like a ghostly version of a rainbow?

If you're around Lake Geneva in Wisconsin, you might just get lucky!

It's called a fogbow, and it's not your everyday weather phenomenon.

Picture this: Lake Geneva, crystal clear and serene, and there above it, an arc of pure white stretching from one side to the other.

Not a typical rainbow with bold colors, but a faint and ethereal band.

It's caused by the sun hitting tiny droplets in the fog, quite similar to how rainbows form with rain, but with a whispery twist.

  • What is it? A fogbow, often referred to as a white rainbow.
  • Where? Over the beauty of Lake Geneva, Wisconsin.
  • Visuals: Soft white arc, ghostly and mesmerizing.

On a cold day, with the sunlight playing just right, you might just snap a photo like photographer Tom Purdy did.

It's a reminder that nature has more than bold colors in its palette - sometimes it sketches in shades of mist.

No intense hues here, just a delicate brush of light.

How rare is it to witness this spectacle?

Pretty rare!

So, keep your eyes peeled next time you're by the lake on a foggy morning.

You never know when nature decides to surprise you with its silent, spectral art.

And just like that, a quiet day at Lake Geneva can turn into a memory that sticks with you, as elusive and beautiful as a fogbow itself.

So, why not pack your camera next time?

You could capture a moment that's as rare as it is breathtaking.

Remember, the best shots often come from the most unexpected places!

Lake Champlain, Vermont/New York - Aurora Borealis

Have you ever seen the sky perform its magical light show?

Imagine you're by Lake Champlain, the stars above you, the gentle lapping of water beside you, and then the sky begins to dance with vibrant greens and purples.

Welcome to the wonder that is the Aurora Borealis.

When to Visit

  • Typically visible from late fall to early spring.
  • Best viewed on clear, dark nights.

Photography Tips

  • Bring your camera; a tripod is a must to avoid blurry photos.
  • Set your ISO high and shutter speed slow.

You've probably heard of the Northern Lights in far-off destinations like Norway or Iceland, but did you know you could witness this stellar phenomenon right here?

Yes, Lake Champlain, straddled between Vermont and New York, is one of those rare locations in the United States where you might just spot the Aurora Borealis.

Best Spots for Viewing

  • Malletts Bay: A known haven for aurora enthusiasts.
  • Offers panoramic views and the possibility of water reflections enhancing the experience.

Did you catch that?

Lights reflecting off the lake—that's a double whammy of natural beauty you don't want to miss.

So, if the stars align and the KP index is above 5, indicating stronger geomagnetic activity, grab your camera and head to Lake Champlain.

Your perfect shot of the Northern Lights could be waiting for you over the tranquil waters.

Keep an eye on space weather forecasts and plan your adventure.

Who knows, you might just capture the awe-inspiring Aurora Borealis with Lake Champlain's serene backdrop, a scene that will undoubtedly leave your friends green (and purple) with envy!

Lake Pontchartrain, Louisiana - Waterspout

Have you ever witnessed the dance of a waterspout?

Picture yourself near Lake Pontchartrain on a seemingly ordinary day when suddenly, nature puts on a show just for you.

That's exactly what happened on June 18 as locals near the I-10 Twin Span Bridge in Louisiana caught sight of a spectacular waterspout in action.

Astonishing, right?

This waterspout, a columnar vortex forming over water, seemed to connect the sky and the lake, stirring the waters of Lake Pontchartrain.

It's a rare and fascinating weather phenomenon where you get an intimate look at the raw power of nature, twisting and turning in a mesmerizing display.

  • Capture that Image: Imagine a snapshot for your album - a spiraling waterspout over the glistening lake surface! This kind of image doesn’t just tell a story, it plunges you right into the scene.
  • Fun Fact: Did you know waterspouts fall into two categories? Fair weather and tornadic! It's like they have their own personalities.

Here’s the scoop:

  • Date: June 18
  • Location: Near I-10 Twin Span Bridge, Lake Pontchartrain
  • Witnesses: Drivers and residents, including Ashton Galt

Waterspouts like these might seem daunting, but they’re a dream for weather enthusiasts and photographers alike.

Next time you're by a lake, keep your eyes peeled – you just might be in for a surprising display put on by Mother Nature herself!

Lake Tahoe, California/Nevada - Snowstorm

Have you ever seen Lake Tahoe transform into a magical winter paradise?

Picture this: it's early March and you're wrapped up warm, watching the snowflakes dance around you.

It's not just a flurry; Lake Tahoe has seen epic scenes of snowfall during powerful blizzards!

In South Lake Tahoe, residents witnessed snow piling up way above cars, and drifts ascended to rooftops.

Can you imagine waking up to snow that's equivalent to an NBA player in height?

It's not science fiction; it's the incredible might of Mother Nature.

Here are the stats: snow began falling at rates of 2-4 inches per hour.

Imagine the mountains around Lake Tahoe getting dressed in up to 10 feet of snow, with communities on the lake's shores receiving 3 to 6 feet.

Does it not sound like an overzealous baker frosting a gigantic cake?

Did You Know?

  • More than a foot of snow was expected in the valleys on the Sierra's eastern front, including Reno.
  • Gusts up to 190 mph were recorded, showcasing the storm's ferocious energy.
  • The storm led to closures of major freeways, ski resorts, and even Yosemite National Park. Talk about nature telling us to take a snow day!

As snowstorms come and go, Lake Tahoe stands out with its serene beauty even in the most intense weather.

Don't you wonder what it's like to dig out your front door?

Or navigate a street that's turned into a snow canyon overnight?

And, of course, we're all grateful for the snowplowing heroes.

After the city invested $3.5 million in new equipment, complaints about clogged streets fell drastically.

Here's a shoutout to effective city planning!

So, next time you're scrolling through photos, and you spot Lake Tahoe shrouded in cosily packed snow, know that behind that calm picture was a weather event that's nothing short of awe-inspiring.

Lake Powell, Arizona/Utah - Lightning Storm

Ever seen Mother Nature put on a more electrifying light show than a lightning storm?

Picture this: a dramatic dance of lightning bolts above Lake Powell.

You're looking at the red rock canyons, awash in sudden light, as a silent strike reflects off the lake's surface.

It's breathtaking, isn't it?

  • Location: Lake Powell, Arizona/Utah border.
  • Event: Unforgettable lightning storms.

These storms aren't just visually stunning, but they also shed light on Lake Powell's weather dynamics.

Amid sporadic rain, thunderheads rear up suddenly, breaking the calm desert air with fierce energy.

Imagine the sound of thunder rolling through those canyons—pretty dramatic, right?

Did You Know?

  • Lake Powell is the second-largest reservoir in the U.S.
  • The lake is experiencing severe drought conditions.
  • Even so, incredible weather events like lightning storms still occur.

Picture This:

  • The contrast of dark stormy skies against the desert backdrop
  • A vivid bolt lights up the entire scene—pure magic!
  • The red cliffs seem to glow momentarily with each flash

It's like the sky is playing a high-voltage symphony, and the lake is the theater.

Have you caught this show yet?

If not, keep your camera ready.

Such weather events, while rare, are a testament to nature's unpredictable power—even over a desert lake suffering from drought.