‘Ice Wave’ in Lake Huron, Michigan at Mackinaw City Not Real: Straits of Mackinac Photo Actually Antarctica

February 15, 2014 Updated: July 18, 2015

An “ice wave” in Lake Huron, Mich., in Mackinaw City isn’t a real thing. Viral photos on Facebook and Twitter are claiming otherwise.

The image is real, but it was taken in Antarctica by astrophysicist Tony Travouillon with TMT/Caltech, who published a series of amazing photos on his website. 

The caption for the fake Huron photos say, “Michigan has had the coldest winter in decades. Water expands to freeze, and at Mackinaw City the water in Lake Huron below the surface was supercooled. It expanded to break through the surface ice and froze into this incredible wave.”

There were several “ice wave” images from Antarctica being shared on Facebook and Twitter.

Joe Charlevoix with UpNorthLive, a Michigan news website, said that he gets inquiries about the photo every year.

“Every winter for about the past three or four years around this time of year, I get numerous emails and questions regarding a picture on the internet that shows an impressive ice formation that apparently is from the Straits of Mackinac. After getting a number of people wanting a story on it, I felt the need to write and ‘debunk’ the erroneous information attached to the pictures,” he wrote.

He said that one person in an e-mail said that the photos indicate that “Mother Nature [is] doing her thing!” The person added, “This wave phenomena occurs in Antarctica, but in Michigan? Yes, it’s been quite a winter.”

Charlevoix added that the photos were taken in Antarctica in 2002.

“The formation of these ice features has nothing to do with waves being frozen in place. These pictures are from ice that has been compacted and then uplifted by glacial action. The ice is then shaped by wind and other elements. If as described in the email, the waves suddenly froze in place, ice that froze suddenly is rather cloudy and opaque and would not be colored the way this ice is in a brilliant shade of blue,” he wrote.