Most people avoid the beach on a stormy day. Not Cody Evans.
The howling wind and rushing water is what draws the Ingersoll, Ont., photographer to Lake Erie regularly, on a mission to capture the perfect shot — and last Friday was his lucky day.
Of the more than 10,000 photos he took, one appeared to resemble a face.
Evans said he thinks it looks like 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 things like that in waves and in clouds, but to have it clear like that was just unreal. That image definitely stood out from all the others.”
Since 2020, Evans has been using his Nikon Z9 camera to capture the wave action at the lake, but this was an image he didn’t expect 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 pictures and it was by far the best day I had there,” Evans said.
So what was in the air that caused this phenomenon to happen?
Strong winds and improved waves
According to Environment Canada meteorologist Daniel Liota, the short answer is “November gales,” strong winds over ocean areas that travel faster than 40 miles per hour.
“The lakes at this time of year are relatively warm compared to the air above them, especially with the cold air mass that entered the Great Lakes last weekend,” Liota said. “So that resulted in the very strong wind over the water.”
Gales are especially common during the periods between the fall and winter seasons, Liota said. In this case, southwesterly winds traveled a long distance across the lake and built these waves over the water, he added.
Evans admits that windy days can be difficult at the beach, especially with cold weather and blowing sand, but he made sure to wait out the snowfall to watch the waves hit.
“The waves hit pretty well 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 these peaks,” he said.
This was due to the cold air prominent in the Great Lakes region coming through behind a cold front, creating unstable conditions that caused some lake effect snow.
“We usually have an active storm track running 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 water, which results in a long period of strong winds and gusts over the Great Lakes, hence the gale.”
Liota says that there is not much peculiarity behind these kinds of waves and that they happen every year.
But Evans is determined to continue his streak of capturing more of these stills in Port Stanley. “I want a camera in my hands until I can’t hold one anymore honestly, I love it,” he said.