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Lake Michigan Is Thawing Into a Giant Pit of Ice Shards and It's Oddly Beautiful

Travel + Leisure logo Travel + Leisure 3/21/2019 Cailey Rizzo
a view of a snow covered bridge: Ice Shards on Lake Michigan at South Haven Pier. © Joel Bissell/Kalamazoo Gazette via AP Ice Shards on Lake Michigan at South Haven Pier.

It must be spring, because Lake Michigan is thawing out into an otherworldly patch of glittering ice shards.

The water beneath the lake’s frozen surface has begun to thaw and is creating a sea of ice shards that look like something out of a Disney film or Game of Thrones scene. As the water below the surface melts, it pushes the remaining ice into a formation like the quills of a porcupine.

a close up of a large rock: Joel Bissell/Kalamazoo Gazette via AP © Joel Bissell/Kalamazoo Gazette via AP Joel Bissell/Kalamazoo Gazette via AP

Although the ice may look beautiful, it is most definitely not safe for people to explore.

a close up of an ocean: Joel Bissell/Kalamazoo Gazette via AP © Joel Bissell/Kalamazoo Gazette via AP Joel Bissell/Kalamazoo Gazette via AP

"No ice is safe ice, especially this time of year," U.S. Coast Guard boatswain’s mate chief petty officer Grant Heffner told Michigan Live on Wednesday. "The ice is certainly deteriorating and breaking up."

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The lake has been frozen since January when a polar vortex walloped the area and brought subzero temperatures. After the storm, ice shelves formed over 56 percent of the lake’s surface. The Coast Guard warned against walking out on the ice as its instability created sudden patches where it became unpredictable. Warmer temperatures over the past two weeks have caused the unusual and beautiful ice shard formations.

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