Michigan's bomb cyclone - February 24, 2019


On February 24, 2019, a bomb cyclone hit Michigan. Recorded waves were as high as 18.5 feet! Todd and Brad were in heaven shooting along the Lake Michigan shoreline, at Stearns Beach in Ludington. They made several images as wave after wave hammered the Ludington North Breakwater Light. 

Hitting 18.5 feet, these were the second biggest waves that Brad had ever seen. The biggest being 22-foot waves on October 26, 2010. Todd and Brad were shooting their 365 project in 2010, and his image Brad Reed's Day 299 of 365 is definitely a day to remember! While 18.5 feet are impressive, the waves on Sunday were about the fourth largest that Todd has ever witnessed, with the largest being the day the Fitzgerald sank in Lake Superior. That particular day, the waves in Ludington were over 25 feet. Enjoy Todd and Brad's current images and video of the bomb cyclone, as well as their largest waves they've photographed, below. 

"Windburn" by Brad Reed

For several days they have been predicting a large wind and ice storm for today. I was hoping for decent light and good visibility during the storm. When I got down to the beach, my dad was already shooting the Ludington lighthouse. I pulled in next to him to shoot some videos and still photos of him at work with all his heavy weather gear on. Then he wanted to make some images of me. While he was shooting those, I captured this wave going over the lighthouse. We love days like today when Lake Michigan is angry! Nikon D810. F2.8 at 1/8000, ISO 800. 300mm lens at 300mm. On a tripod without a flash. February 24, 2019 at 4:35pm.


Brad Reed’s Day 299 of 365 – October 26, 2010

The sand hitting my face feels like shards of glass as I make my way to the water’s edge at Stearns Park to photograph the Ludington North Breakwater Light. The winds over Lake Michigan at times exceed 60 miles per hour. Magic light, white clouds and dark blue sky behind are my backdrop. Now I just need a huge wave. Bingo!

F5.6 at 1/1250, ISO 100, 300 mm lens at 300 mm


“Twin Peaks” by Todd Reed

I watched in awe for two hours as wave after enormous wave slammed into the Ludington Lighthouse Sunday afternoon and early evening. I have rarely witnessed or photographed bigger or more frequent waves exploding against the seemingly invincible structure. Many of my several hundred exposures show water flying up to 100 feet in the air and the lighthouse nowhere to be seen. Persistence paid off when I finally caught one huge wave still in descent as the next one ascended. Nikon D850. F5 at 1/5000, ISO 3200. 500mm lens at 500mm. On a tripod without a flash. February 24, 2019 at 4:59pm.


“The Day the Fitzgerald Went Down” by Todd Reed

The day was Nov. 10, 1975. It was-and still is-the roughest I have seen Lake Michigan. I was amazed by the 20 to 30 foot waves slamming into the Ludington lighthouse. The roiling sea engulfed the breakwater. Hurricane-force winds made it nearly impossible to stand up. I braced myself against a tree and held the camera as still as I could. Sand blasted me and my Nikon camera. Of course I could not know that within a few hours, the Great Lakes freighter Edmund Fitzgerald would succumb on Lake Superior to what meteorologists would later describe as the “Perfect Great Lakes Storm.” I knew without a doubt that this was the fiercest storm to hit the Ludington area shoreline since the Armistice Day Storm of 1940. I knew this storm was more than a match for even the mighty self-righting 44-foot Coast Guard motor lifeboat at Coast Guard Station Ludington. Thank God the local Coasties didn’t have to try to go out that day. The barometer dropped to the second-lowest level ever recorded in Ludington. Even the waves inside the Ludington pierheads appeared mountainous. It was a day for the history books.