The Spectacular Waves of Lake Erie

Feb 10, 2016 14 comments

It’s hard to believe these pictures of gigantic, thrashing waves were not captured in the ocean but on the shallowest of the Great Lakes of North America. Lake Erie may be shallow (just 20 meters deep on average) but it isn’t small. It stretches for 388 km in length and has a maximum width of 92 km, making it the 11th largest lake in the world by surface area. And because the lake is shallow, conditions can change dramatically in just a matter of minutes, with fierce waves springing up unexpectedly. In fact, the tribe of Native Americans who lived along its southern shore called the lake "Erige" which means “cat” because of its unpredictable and sometimes violently dangerous nature. Lake Erie’s nasty storms have claimed no less than 1,400 ships and as high as 8,000 according to one estimate. Some say, Lake Erie has more "wrecks per square mile" than any other freshwater location on earth.


The power of Lake Erie was captured in these dramatic images by Canada-based photographer David Sandford,  over a period of four weeks in November on the shores of Port Stanley, Ontario. Around this time of the year the lake is at its most violent. The wind lashes at 50 km per hour and temperature plunges below zero. On days like these when most people avoid the lake, Sandford drives out to the lake’s shore before sunrise, gets into a wetsuit and wades out into the surf with his photographic gear. If the waves become too rough, he retreats to the shore and shoots with a long lens.

“Oceans and lakes beckon me. Since I was a kid, I’ve loved to be on, in or around water. I’m fascinated by the sheer raw power and force of it, captivated by the graceful movement of a wave and mesmerized by light dancing across it.” he told Washington Post.

David Sandford calls this series “Liquid Mountain”.
















  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  2. Please remove the NUTJOB'S irrelevant comments above.

  3. Stunning pictures!!! Thanks!

  4. Captivating photos!

  5. All I can say is "WOW!"

  6. Boo, more portly flyovers blubbering at the minute grandeur their states can muster. A true spectacle are the waves along the Oregon coast when a storm rolls in.

  7. Stunningly beautiful photos!!!

  8. It brings to mind that old tv commercial, "It's not nice to fool with Mother Nature".

    Indeed, she can be quite moody and temperamental.

  9. I can't tell how big (or small) the waves are. There is no reference point. For all I know, the waves are 10 inches high.

    1. the waves can be 30 foot high easily.... but even a "small" 10 foot wave is very dangerous especially when as you can see they are crashing into one another or being hit by opposing winds... the winds swirl and shift constantly ...

  10. Lake Erie is by far the most shallow of the US Great Lakes . Its deepest is 180 ft while its depth only averages around 80 feet in the deepest middle section of the lake. When Great Lakes huge cargo ships sail through lake Erie they have to let out a lot of ballast(water) so the ship doesn't run aground in some very shallow areas right in the middle of the lake Because its so shallow waves come in all directions . It sort of like filling a tea cup saucer with water . you blow on it and you see tiny waves coming in all directions . Storms can come out of nowhere . many a small boat to medium sized ship has been torn apart and many a sailor & passenger has drowned


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