Stunning Video Shows Huge Ice Sheet Breaking Off Lake Michigan Shoreline

An enormous sheet of ice covering Lake Michigan can be seen breaking apart from the Chicago shoreline and drifting away, in a spectacular timelapse video posted to Twitter this week.

The footage was captured by WGN-TV's weather cam, and shared on Twitter by meteorologist John Kassell, with a hat tip to WGN-TV's chief meteorologist Tom Skilling.

"Incredible timelapse of a giant section of ice covering Lake Michigan around the Chicago shoreline breaking off and drifting away. This video timelapse was captured by the WGN Hancock camera," Kassell wrote in a caption.

It isn't clear how many hours the footage was recorded over, but the video shows that the breakaway happened in less than a day.

Incredible timelapse of a giant section of ice covering Lake Michigan around the Chicago shoreline breaking off and drifting away. This video timelapse was captured by the WGN Hancock camera. H/T Tom @Skilling pic.twitter.com/9evTRpiLtn

— John Kassell (@wxkassell) February 23, 2021

Parts of Lake Michigan froze over earlier this month amid an extended cold spell in and around the Chicago area that brought nine consecutive days of snowfall, just short of a record that has stood for 78 years.

One of the more breathtaking sights has been that of the frozen shores of Lake Michigan, which has been drawing visitors looking to take a rare opportunity to stand on the ice sheet that has been covering the water, and post pictures and footage of the phenomenon to social media.

However, with temperatures now creeping just above freezing, the ice that has gripped the lake has started to break apart and melt away.

The Chicago Police Marine Unit has spent much of the past month urging people to stay off the lake, warning that the ice is not as stable as it might appear to be, and that one wrong move could prove fatal.

DO NOT DO THIS! Your life is
worth more than an #instgram #twitter post or #tiktok video. At current water temp you will lose dexterity in your limbs in under 3 minutes & be exhausted in 15-30 after falling through the ice. #ChicagoLakefront @Chicago_Police https://t.co/RMyJRCVpPT

— Chicago Police Marine Unit (@CPDMarineUnit) February 22, 2021

"With water temps at 34° loss of dexterity in your limbs begins to set in after approx 3 minutes & exhaustion or unconscious sets in approx 15-30 minutes. Admire from a distance," it tweeted earlier this month.

In another tweet, it added: "Shelf Ice is extremely dangerous. While the marvels of #icebergs on the shore of #LakeMichigan are wonders of nature they can be deadly. With ice pushed on shore it is nearly impossible to know where land ends and water below ice begins Please STAY OFF."

Bessie slips into Lake Michigan and managed to climb onto ice. CFD responded and she is all safe now. pic.twitter.com/5Gam1UkQRe

— Chicago Fire Media (@CFDMedia) February 20, 2021

At the weekend, the Chicago Fire Department posted a video of a dog that needed to be rescued after falling into Lake Michigan.

The timelapse video shows just how quickly huge sheets of ice can break apart.

With a bit of wind and near-above freezing temperatures, the ice that was locked in place across our NW Indiana nearshore waters has broken free this afternoon. Clearing skies have allowed our GOES-16 satellite to capture this occurring: pic.twitter.com/La36YaYZRy

— NWS Chicago (@NWSChicago) February 22, 2021

The National Weather Service (NWS) has also shared satellite imagery that exhibits the enormous scale of the ice sheet that broke free from the shoreline.

It is warning people in the Chicago area to be aware of falling ice amid the arrival of milder temperatures.

Frozen shoreline of Lake Michigan at Chicago
An aerial photo made using a drone shows ice formed along the shoreline of Lake Michigan near downtown on February 09, 2021 in Chicago, Illinois. Incredible footage has captured an enormous ice sheet breaking away from the shore. Scott Olson/Getty Images