Tales of the Coast
Coastal Dynamics


Wind and the Great Lakes

Wave conditions within the Great Lakes are strongly influenced by storm winds that generate seas. These winds are mainly produced by various extratropical storms moving across the Great Lakes region. The resulting waves can cause erosion of sand beaches or weathering of cliffs and headlands along the shore.

Winds also cause seiches in the Great Lakes. The waves and water movement produced by these oscillations can also affect erosion and sediment transport.

The movement of sea ice, which forms when the lakes' surfaces freeze, is driven by wind. These large ridges of seasonal ice can scour sediment from the beaches and deposit it when they melt. Sometimes the sediment is transported alongshore, but it can also be lost to deep water, resulting in net erosion.

Lake Huron
Source: National Oceanic & Atmospheric Adminstration

Wind and the Great Lakes

Seasonal Conditions: Strong storms are not very frequent from late spring through early autumn. The largest waves on the Great Lakes are generated between mid-autumn and the time when ice reduces wave generation potential.