Ice Balls Are Floating On Lake Michigan Right Now

It has been relatively warm in much of the country so far this winter, it’s true, but the key word there is “relatively”. If the Lake Michigan area is a few degrees warmer than normal, it doesn’t necessarily mean that Milwaukee, Chicago, and the Upper Peninsula have been transformed into a tropical paradise. In fact, it means the exact opposite: that rather than a thick sheet of ice covering the entire area, the shores of Lake Michigan are now being assaulted by floating ice balls. Whoopee!

According to photographer Ken Scott and, their appearance is basically an annual tradition, and they’re simply pieces of larger ice floats further out on the lake.

[Scott] said the balls form out of frozen slush, dense with water that pours out when they’re lifted, and leaving a “honeycomb” ball of ice.

Ice balls form when chunks break from large sheets of ice on Lake Michigan. The pieces tumble in the waves, which rounds them and smooths the edges. Waves eventually push them to shore.

So ice balls are harmless, more or less. Still, we think Michigan can keep ’em.