October 10, 2018

For me one of the best things about living in Minnesota is knowing it takes only a few hours of travel to get to Lake Superior. I’ve lived in Minnesota for over 40 years and have been to the Lake dozens of times however, until yesterday, had never experienced a famed gale.


The draw of seeing an angry Lake Superior guided my car on the drive up I-35. The reports on the radio talked of a flooded Canal Park, a reported 86 mile per hour gust, and waves approaching 20 feet in height. I could not get there fast enough.

Approaching Duluth from the south on I-35 I look forward to the exact point when I crest the hill and see the Lake for the first time. Today Lake Superior hides behind low clouds and mist. I don’t see the Lake until I got into the neighborhoods of East Duluth. Craning my neck to the right I could see the lake in between the lakeside homes.  What I saw was, in a word, unnerving.


Pulling over at the blocked off Brighton Beach road I parked and walked in. The road had been made impassable by debris and a washout. Lake Superior slaps at the picnic tables. The root beer colored water is churning, the wind is howling.

The scene is intense. Wind. Rain. Waves. “Am I too close to the water?” “F-Stop, ISO setting, horizon line, focus?” “How do good photographers make it look easy?” There are a lot of thoughts coursing through my noggin. “Too bad I wear glasses and don’t have a rain suit.”

I continue up the North Shore Drive for a few miles. Pulling in where I can, I am looking

Waves of Lake Superior
Lake Superior during a storm on October 10, 2018

for a place to see waves crash. I am having good luck, but I am getting soaked and jeans are not waterproof. Duh.

Turning back towards Duluth I decide I should try to get some shots of Canal Park. Being mindful of road closures I walk in towards the Aerial Lift Bridge. I am not prepared to see standing water everywhere. I watch the waves crest the wall dividing the canal from where people line up to see the ships come in. It feels spooky. It feels a little dangerous to be here.


The power of this Lake was on full-display. The video doesn’t do it justice. If you have the opportunity to see Lake Superior during a gale you won’t be disappointed. Just remember to be safe and to wear water-resistant pants.