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Photos show 'rare' phenomenon on Lake Erie

PUT-in-BAY, Ohio (WJW) — As a powerful winter storm battered northern Ohio Saturday, 65 mph wind gusts caused a rare scene along Lake Erie.

The near hurricane-force winds from the southwest pushed the more shallow water out further into the lake in the western basin of Lake Erie near Port Clinton and the Lake Erie Islands, especially at Put-in-Bay on South Bass Island in Ottawa County Saturday.

As the water came away from the shore, it revealed portions of the bottom of the lake.

“It felt like I was walking on a different planet,” Barry Koehler told Nexstar’s WJW.

Courtesy: Barry Koehler

Koehler, who braved the brutal conditions, took photos like the one above that show huge boulders completely exposed. Koehler said the boulders are usually under 6 to 9 feet of water, with just their tops exposed, and at times on Saturday, people were walking on the lake bed.

“It was so exciting to see Lake Erie like that, it was like exploring a whole new world,” Koehler continued.

Courtesy: Barry Koehler

However, when winds of near hurricane strength (74 mph) blow in from the northeast over Lake Erie, the opposite phenomenon happens. Water is pushed well past the shoreline, sometimes causing flooding in places like Port Clinton, which was not the case Saturday.

“It’s not something you see often, twice in the last 13 months is rare, but when the lake bed is exposed due to wild winds from the southwest like on Saturday, it’s thrilling” Koehler said.

You can see Koehler’s fascinating photos he shared with WJW in the slideshow below.

There are additional photos from Doug Wilhelm at the bottom of this story.

Doug Wilhelm also sent WJW some stellar photos of the exposed Lake Erie bed.

Lake Erie is known to experience seiches, according to NOAA. A seiche is when strong winds, combined with rapid changes in atmospheric pressure, send water from one side of a body of water. You’ve likely seen this happening in a cup of water or a bathtub as water sloshes from one end to the other.

Seiches can last for hours or days. Once the winds shift, the water will return to the area it was pushed from.

According to NOAA, a 22-foot seiche in Lake Erie breached a sea wall, killing 78 people in 1844. The seiche even dammed enough ice to temporarily stop Niagara Falls from flowing.

Source: Fox 8 News Channel

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