Most people avoid the beach on a stormy day. Not Cody Evans.
The howling wind and churning waters are what draw the Ingersoll, Ont., photographer to Lake Erie regularly, with the mission of capturing the perfect shot — and last Friday was his lucky day.
Of the more than 10,000 photos he took, one appeared to look like a face.
Evans said he thinks it resembles the face of Poseidon, the ancient Greek god of the sea and storms.
“I was kind of blown away,” he said. “You see a lot of stuff like that in waves and in clouds, but to have it clear like that was just unreal. That photo sure stood out of all the rest.”
Since 2020, Evans has used his Nikon Z9 camera to catch the wave action at the lake, but this was an image he was not expecting to see, he said.
“It was just crazy, it was like the perfect day. I’ve been going there for three years, trying to get good shots and that was by far the best day I’ve had there,” Evans said.
So, what was in the air that causes this phenomenon to happen?
Strong winds and enhanced waves
According to Environment Canada meteorologist Daniel Liota, the short answer is “November gales,” strong winds over marine areas that go faster than 64 kilometers per hour.
“The lakes this time of the year are relatively warm compared to the air above them, especially with the cold air mass that came into the Great Lakes this past weekend,” Liota said. So that resulted in the very gusty winds over the water.
Gales are especially common during the times between the fall and winter seasons, Liotta said. In this case, southwesterly winds traveled a long distance over the lake and built up those waves over the water, he added.
Evans admits windy days can be difficult on the beach especially with cold weather and sand blasts, but he made sure to wait out the snowfall to see the waves crash.
“The waves were crashing pretty good because the pier pushes the water back out into the lake so when the water is pushed back out, the waves collide and they cause those peaks,” he said.
This was due to the cold air that was prominent in the Great Lakes region which came through behind a cold front, making for unstable conditions causing some lake-effect-snow.
“We usually have an active storm track that runs through the lake this time of year especially in the wake of these stronger systems that bring in cold air masses,” Liota said.
So we get the strong instability over the waters which results in a long of strong winds and gustiness over the great lakes hence the gales.
Liota says there’s not much peculiarity behind these kinds of waves and that they happen every year.
But Evans is determined to continue his streak of catching more of these stills at Port Stanley. “I’ll have a camera in my hands till I can’t hold one anymore honestly, I love it,” he said.