Power of the Storm: 44 Ferocious Waves Attacking Lighthouses

Stormy weather and rough seas at Roker Lighthouse © Gail Johnson

The photographer described this awesome shot as, “Stormy weather and rough seas at Roker Lighthouse.” Photo #1 by © Gail Johnson

Grand Haven Lighthouse

Grand Haven Lighthouse. The photographer described, “In this picture is the outer and inner light. The outer light is 36′ tall and the inner light is 51′ tall. I was able to venture out safely about 150′ with out getting washed into the water. Twice I got a bath from the waist down. As the remnants of the record low pressure moved on this past weekend the waves on Lake Michigan were pretty rough. When we got the beach in the early afternoon winds were topping out at 50 mph making for some huge waves breaking on the end of the pier by the outer light. Some of the breaks were reaching 40′ tall.” Photo #2 by © Luke Hertzfeld

Blizzard Rams New England

Blizzard Rams New England. 1978 Pulitzer Prize, Feature Photography, Staff Photographers of Boston Herald American. The lighthouse is 114 feet high, which means that foam is spraying 100 feet into the air, propelled upward by a raging sea that sinks ships and floods towns up and down the coast.
It is Feb. 8, 1978. A blizzard has rammed New England, shutting down roads, businesses and schools. Snow buries everything. Nothing moves. Kevin Cole, chief photographer at The Boston Herald American, is stuck in Plymouth, Mass. “The snow was over the house. I’ve never seen anything like it.” Determined to cover the storm, Cole heads for the Hyannis airport. “I found this place called Discover Flying School. The wind was blowing. The pilot said ‘You’re crazy, nobody’s going up.'”
Before long, they are airborne. “It was this little, tiny plane. We took off. The whole coastline was gone, houses in the water, houses floating, waves crashing inside them. About two miles out, I saw Minot Light.”
In the raging wind, they circle the lighthouse. The pilot tells Cole, “We can’t stay out here any longer.’ Just as he started to turn, I saw a huge wave. That’s when I got that shot, and that’s the same time I threw up.”
Other Herald American photographers fan out around the region, photographing the blizzard’s destruction: Villages buried in freezing flood waters, commuters trapped in snow-covered cars. The newspaper publishes a special section, which chronicles the worst New England storm in 200 years—54 dead, 10,000 homeless and evacuated. Photo #3 by Staff Photographers of Boston Herald American via cliff1066™

The hard life of the lighthouse

The hard life of the lighthouse. Photo #4 by Juan José Aza

Rough weather for lighthouse keepers - Monster waves

Monster waves: Rough weather for lighthouse keepers. Photo #5 by Mariners Weather Log/NOAA

Aftermath of the Winter Storm - huges turned to ice

Aftermath of the Winter Storm: The photographer described this photo as, “30 foot tall outer light of the St. Joseph, Michigan after a severe winter storm. Waves on Lake Michigan were said to be over 20 feet high, which pounded the lighthouse and covered it in ice feet thick in places. Workers were just finishing up a paint job when the storm hit. The scaffold was demolished and is also covered in a thick layer of ice.”
“The walk to the lighthouse was treacherous- the pier is also covered in a layer of ice. Most of the way was slow going, but the walk next to the inner light was the most difficult. There is only a path about 20 inches wide with the lighthouse to your left, and the frigid lake to your right. I managed to carefully negotiate the path and make it out to the outer light. In hindsight, I’m lucky I didn’t go for an unexpected winter swim.” Photo #6 by Tom Gill

Ice Drapery after 20ft waves

Ice Drapery: Ice formed on the St. Joseph, Michigan lighthouse and catwalk during a winter storm that churned up Lake Michigan and created 20 foot waves. The ice apparently broke the “hand rail” cables on the catwalk, and they are now drooping down with tons of ice. Photo #7 by Tom Gill

The Oswego Lighthouse is awash with waves during a November 2003 storm with 80 mph winds

The Oswego Lighthouse is awash with waves during a November 2003 storm with 80 mph winds. Photo #8 by © 2003 Jon R. Vermilye via http://www.byways.org

Porthcawl Harbour Storm

Porthcawl Harbor Storm. Photo #9 by Nick Russill

South Haven Pier 16 to 20 foot waves

South Haven Pier. Gale force winds pound the South Haven, Michigan lighthouse and pier during a two day storm. Gusts of over 50 miles per hour created 16 to 20 foot waves in open water. Photo #10 by Tom Gill

Furious Lake Michigan Petoskey - waves and ice

Furious Lake Michigan Petoskey – waves and ice. Photo #11 by Charles Dawley

Monster waves at Frankfort Michigan

Winds 30-40, gusts to 55, mid lake waves at 17-22 ft, very impressive storm. This was taken from the beach at Frankfort Michigan. The lighthouse in the photo is 76 ft tall. Photo #12 by Jim Sorbie

Splash - Fecamp - Seine Maritime - Upper Normandy Region

Gale force winds throughout the day churned up Lake Michigan and created high waves along the South Haven, Michigan shore. The lighthouse tower is 35 feet tall (from the pier) another six feet to the water – making that splash around 50 feet tall. Photo #13 by Nwardez

waves

The photographer and friend were sprayed while capturing photos of waves. Photo #14 by Olga (__o[IT]__)

Big Water - Ludington North Breakwater Light - Lake Michigan waves

“Big Water” – Ludington North Breakwater Light. The North Breakwater Light is 57” feet tall and the Lake Michigan waves were going much higher! Photo #15 by James Marvin Phelps

Artic Blast - Ludington South Breakwater Light

Artic Blast – Ludington South Breakwater Light. Photo #16 by James Marvin Phelps

Liquid Thunder - Waves Crashing into Grand Marais Harbor Light

Liquid Thunder – Waves Crashing into Grand Marais Harbor Light. Photo #17 by James Marvin Phelps

Battered Grand Haven Pier Light

Battered Grand Haven Pier Light. Photo #18 by James Marvin Phelps

Wollongong Lighthouse & Waves

Wollongong Lighthouse & Waves. Photo #19 by Steven (The Waterboy)

Petoskey Winter Storm  - huge waves vs lighthouse

Petoskey Winter Storm. Photo #20 by Charles Dawley

Wind, waves and water. Beautiful but pounding at the coastline and the lighthouse. Photo #21 by Earl Wilkerson

Bajamar

Bajamar in the Canary Islands of Spain. Photo #22 by Olga Díez

South Haven Wind - waves- lighthouse

Gale force winds throughout the day churned up Lake Michigan and created high waves along the South Haven, Michigan shore. The lighthouse tower is 35 feet tall (from the pier) another six feet to the water – making that splash around 50 feet tall. Photo #23 by Tom Gill

Hide and Seek … Today’s puzzle – try to find the pier hidden in this picture. Hint: the glimpse of the lighthouse may be a clue. Photo #24 by Mrs Logic

Perfect Timing - Petoskey Breakwall

Perfect Timing – Petoskey Breakwall. Photo taken during a windy cold day in October. The waves were amazing! Photo #26 by Charles Dawley

Smell the salt? Fishing boat coming in during a storm, winds a 130 km/h

Smell the salt? Fishing boat coming in during a storm, winds a 130 km/h (80 mph). Photo #27 by Nico (maessive)

Sea Point Storm - Foam monster attacking the public!

Okay, not waves attacking in a power struggle against man-made lighthouses, but this shot was creepy cool. The photographer called it Sea Point Storm and wrote, “Pity that this came out blurred, but I was running at the time. Foam monster attacking the public.” Photo #28 by mallix

Waves striking seawall give appearance of geysers erupting

Waves striking seawall give appearance of geysers erupting. New England coast – 1938. Photo #29 by NOAA / National Weather Service

Winter Rage Grand Haven Pier Light

Winter Rage Grand Haven Pier Light. Photo #30 by James Marvin Phelps

1969 Storm surge from Hurricane Carol lashes Rhode Island Yacht Club

1969 – Storm surge from Hurricane Carol lashes Rhode Island Yacht Club. Photo #31 by Providence Journal Co. / NOAA / NWS

Frankfort Michigan lighthouse. When there's a strong wind out of the southwest, dramatic things happen!

Lunchtime at the Lighthouse Frankfort Michigan lighthouse. When there’s a strong wind out of the southwest, dramatic things happen!. Photo #32 by Jim (jimflix!)

1954 - Hurricane Carol destroyed hundreds of summer cottages and homes Huge waves bound into beach front homes

Forget lighthouses, this time the killer waves are attacking homes! Old Lyme, Connecticut in 1954 – Hurricane Carol destroyed hundreds of summer cottages and homes Huge waves bound into beach front homes. Photo #33 by American Red Cross / NOAA / NWS

Sheboygan Lighthouse (NOAA Station SGNW3) ferocious waves

Sheboygan Lighthouse (NOAA Station SGNW3). Photo #34 by University of Wisconsin

Typhoon-generated waves striking a breakwater in Japan

Typhoon-generated waves striking a breakwater in Japan – Historic NWS Collection. Photo #35 by NOAA / NWS / NASA

When the lake goes fishing

When the lake goes fishing. Photo #36 by Jim (jimflix!)

Winter Fury  Ludington North Breakwater Light

Winter Fury at Ludington North Breakwater Light. Photo #38 by James Marvin Phelps

Giant Crashing Wave still can't touch lighthouse

Giant Crashing Wave still can’t touch the lighthouse. Photo #39 by Borf The Dog

Visit Michigan in the winter? Brrr! Photo #41 by Michigan Travel Bureau via EPA

Frankfort Breaker.. Lake Michigan

Frankfort Breaker…Lake Michigan. Photo #42 by Tina (~Jetta Girl~)

Gale force winds at South Haven, Michigan attract visitors to the lighthouse and pier, along with surfers and intrepid kayakers.

Gale force winds at South Haven, Michigan attract visitors to the lighthouse and pier, along with surfers and intrepid kayakers. Photo #42 by Tom Gill

The Power of the Storm

THE POWER OF THE STORM! Mouro Lighthouse, Spain. The ferocious waves exceeded the height of 37.5 meters (123 feet)! The foam breaks down and is “floating” on the wind. Photo #43 by © Rafael G. Riancho

Amazing what kind of weather lighthouses have to endure. Equally amazing are the lighthouse keepers that are brave enough to live there!

356 thoughts on “Power of the Storm: 44 Ferocious Waves Attacking Lighthouses

  1. I was born and raised in St. Joseph Michigan and was so used to playing in and around Lake Michigan that I didn’t really appreciate it. Now I am retired in Kalamazoo and miss the big lake. My parents and us kids would pack a lunch on Saturday, in the summer, and go fish for perch off of the piers. We spent most of the day out there and usually had sunburned noses! Then we had fun at the Silver Beach Amusement Park right next to the South Pier. Oh the memories of the big lake!!!

  2. Our family lived in St. Joesph MI for fifty years. When I first became aware of the lighthouse, it was periodically issuing a very deep BEE-OOPS when conditions were foggy or troublesome. I liked the sound of it because I knew it was assisting boaters who might not have a very good vision of where the entrance to the St. Joseph River was or where the shoreline was. Later on, that sound was replaced by an electronic BEEP. I didn’t like that as well but it was accomplishing the same purpose so it was okay. Now, I believe, the lighthouse gives off no sound at all since devices aboard boats make that unnecessary. The lighthouse was a delight but it was also sort of a legal “attractive nuisance”. Neighbors lost children who didn’t respect the power of the waves and the danger of being out on the end of the pier and dodging the water. Our daughters were permitted to go to the beach without supervision at age 12 but that didn’t mean I didn’t think about how much fun it was to be out on the north pier and hope they would keep their wits about them. One day, Tom Bensen dropped by and we chatted about how he was going to go to maritime school after graduation and sail the great lakes. My love to Tom–still aboard the Edmund Fitzgerald.

  3. I was a crewman on USCG Light Station Ambrose during 1984/85. These great images remind
    me of the Atlantic Ocean storms that rocked my Station. We were a Lighthouse built like
    an Oil Rig type platform located about 10 miles out to sea, south of Brooklyn , NY.
    Waves would hit the ocean catwalks so hard the structure vibrated like a tuning fork.

  4. My Dad was stationed in Oswego from 1948-1953. [Photo #8] Hard to believe that I used to row
    out to the Oswego Lighthouse in a 12 foot flat bottomed skiff, more times than I like to
    think about. It was about a mile or better out there. I was about 13 or 14 at the time.
    I’ve seen Dad and a crew go out in storms, and when they passed the harbor entrance, in
    a 36 foot lifeboat, the waves would oftentimes make them invisible. Lawrence Outten,
    March 15th [Dad’s Birthday] 10:25 p.m.

  5. I have lived most of my life on the western side the lower peninsula of Michigan and have walked most of these Michigan lighthouses. I even took my GPS from the jeep to the end of the Muskegon breakwall and marked that spot. When I got back to the parking lot it appeared I “walked on water” to get to the lighthouse lol.
    The November and December storms coming into Ludington were a good reason to take a ride to the beach and watch the power of nature crash into and over both the north and south breakwalls. What memories these pictures bring back!
    And they say the surfing sucks in the Great Lakes…

  6. Anyone with enough guts to fair the waves of great storms to get to a lighthouse definitely has more guts than me.

  7. I was a lighthouse keeper in New Zealand for eight years – Moko Hinau, Tiritiri, and Nugget Point.
    We often had bad, sometimes very severe weather, and even though the towers were high above the sea, the spray still sometimes reached them. And the wind! On a couple of occasions I actually had to crawl to reach the tower. Nevertheless, the best years of my life – actually wrote a book about it – As Darker Grows the Night.

  8. Why aren’t there any picts. of Manistique, MI’s lighthouses or the Seul Choix point lighthouse in Gulliver, MI ?? Their on Lake Michigan in the UP’s Manistique area and also are very beautiful in any weather!! Living there for 10 years and now living in the dessert makes me miss the water!!

    • It all depends upon what photos are licensed under creative commons, on the time factors of going through hundreds upon hundreds of photos so the viewers will hopefully be pleased, and that also includes the time to hunt for copyright image photographers contact info and if they respond before publishing that yes we can show off their photos with a link back to them. Although many sites do it, we don’t want to snag and ‘steal’ copyright photos without permission. Those photos are the property of photographers.

  9. Geri bildirim: Wilde Stürme und Leuchttürme - Addliss

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