Milwaukee Mirage Last Night

May 11, 2012

Bill’s Blog

Very Rare Mirage over Lake Michigan!

May 10th, 2012 at 11:52 pm by under Bill’s Blog, News, Weather

Click on the picture from Tyler Folkert to really see it.   The lights look reddish because they are coming from over 80 miles away.  The red color (with the longest wavelength) is best able to survive the 80 miles through the air.  It’s the same reason the sun changes from white light during the day to yellow, orange or red at sunset.  I’ve had a  (now it’s up to) many calls and emails from viewers who have seen the lights of Milwaukee tonight at the Lake Michigan shoreline!  This is a VERY rare event, usually occurring from mid-April to mid-May on clear, calm nights.  Usually, of course, you can’ t see Milwaukee because the Earth is curved and Milwaukee’s tallest buildings are below the horizon.  However, once in a VERY great while, the lights of Milwaukee will bounce off a temperature inversion and then become visible along the lakeshore here in Michigan.  From the Minnesota Sea Grant website:  “In Rainbows, Haloes and Glories, author Robert Greenler reported that one April night the residents of Grand Haven, Mich. looked across Lake Michigan and saw city lights and a flashing red beacon. Their sightings were later confirmed to have been the city of Milwaukee, Wisc. ”

And this from

“Directly across the lake from Grand Haven — but well beyond the horizon — is Milwaukee, over 80 miles away,” Rickards spokesman Tom Dingle said recently. “On an occasion in 1977, a temperature inversion over Lake Michigan created a superior mirage, and the lights of Milwaukee’s skyline became clearly visible across the water, bent from beyond the horizon by layers of cold air in the atmosphere.”

Rickards is developing a video that will weave together spoken recollections of the mirages of the Wisconsin shoreline, as seen by residents of Grand Haven.

“This strange and rare event happens only when specific atmospheric circumstances occur, conjuring the image of Milwaukee from beyond the horizon through a precise combination of atmospheric layers at differing temperatures,” Dingle said. “The result is an immaterial image of a city hanging above the surface of the lake.”

This also happens on very rare occasion to the lights of Cleveland going across the lake to Ontario, Canada.

Click on Drawing to enlarge – courtesy of the National Snow and Ice Data Center.   If you get a picture or video, please send it to us at ReportIt.


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