Piers are potentially treacherous treasures

Over the past fortnight, we’ve all learned what a polar vortex is, and what effect it has on a lighthouse that juts out into Lake Michigan.
Jan 16, 2014


Photos of West Michigan lighthouses have gone viral, wowing people nationwide with images of spectacular ice formations that have turned bright red lighthouses stark white.

As impressive as these snapshots are, they’re also quite troubling. Many of these pictures were taken from the end of the piers, looking back toward shore. That means the photographers who captured these images risked their lives to get them.

Walking out on area piers this time of year is perilous at best. It’s clear from these images that the piers are covered in slick ice. One false step and the photographers — and anyone else foolish enough to walk out on these piers — could be a goner.

Lake Michigan is perilous even in the best of conditions. This time of year, with the water temperature in the 30s, a dip in the big lake quickly becomes a matter of life and death.

And when one person goes off the edge, all those who attempt to save him or her are thrust into harm’s way as well.

When people aren’t slip-sliding across the pier, they’re climbing up and over the icebergs that form along the Lake Michigan shoreline — another beautiful but potentially deadly feature of our lakeside town.

Each year, emergency crews are called out to rescue people who have fallen through the unpredictable ice.

We’re fortunate enough to live in a place where, even in the bleakest time of year, there’s plenty of beautiful sights for us to enjoy. We’d encourage you to enjoy them safely, with the respect they deserve. 

Our Views reflects the majority opinion of the members of the Grand Haven Tribune editorial board: Kevin Hook, Cheryl Welch, Matt DeYoung, Alex Doty and Fred VandenBrand. What do you think? E-mail us a letter to the editor to news@grandhaventribune.com or log-in to our website and leave a comment below.



I would like to see more on what makes the Lake Michigan pack ice so different from the ice on any other body of water in the region. I have talked with a few people when they come off the ice and they aren't stupid, they just never thought about what the big waves have done to the underside of what looks to be solid ice. More aggressive ppublic education is needed.


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