The Long and Strong Arm of Hurricane Sandy
The two most powerful wind storms we have witnessed since we moved to Chicago both... eerily... took place on Halloween, two years apart. The first of these, in 2012, proved both the immense power and reach of a hurricane. Although the center of Hurricane Sandy was more than 800 miles away, it was strong enough to create a major disturbance as far as the Great Lakes.  Despite the bitter wind chills produced by the gale-force winds, the sight of these raging, towering waves left no choice but to go to the lakefront to experience them. (1)






Halloween 2014 and the Corkscrew Wave
A more conventional gale resulted in a photograph that, by far and away, has provoked more curiosity than anything else in my portfolio. The Corkscrew Wave, as I have dubbed it, is a combination of the grandeur of nature and the mundane practice of structural engineering. There are terraced concrete revetments built at intervals along the lakefront to prevent erosion. These revetments are supported by steel beams driven into the lake bed at equal intervals. When a moderate east wind pushes waves into the revetments, the water sluices between the beams and shoots straight up, creating beautiful displays of what I call "natural fountains." But on Halloween 2014, the winds were driving the waves strong and low from the southeast. As a result, at this spot near Belmont Harbor, the waves hit the revetment at a low angle and the water appeared to spiral like a corkscrew before crashing hard against the angled concrete. (7)

The corkscrew wave in reverse. (8)

A flock of geese, who usually glide through the sky, struggled fiercely to make headway in the teeth of the Halloween 2014 gale. (9)

A smaller version of the corkscrew. (10)

A St. Patrick's Day That Got Its Irish Up
The St. Patrick's Day windstorm in 2015 wasn't as fierce as those Halloween gales, but produced some major waves that were accented by remnants of that winter's snows and ice. (11)

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