Buoy Camera Catches Waves and Sunsets on Lake Michigan

A weather buoy that got its start thanks to Holland area businesses and groups is now broadcasting video at regular intervals three miles offshore of Port Sheldon in about 85 feet of water.

“This webcam is the first of its kind in the Great Lakes and is capable of transmitting high-resolution images and video clips over the Internet on a regular basis,” said Ed Verhamme, project engineer of LimnoTech, an Ann Arbor environmental engineering company.  Video clips and images are updated every two hours between 6 a.m. and 8 p.m. daily.

Images are available at www.limnotechdata.com/stations/PortSheldon.


For a sample, catch a sunset on May 31: www.limnotechdata.com/stations/PortSheldon/Archive/Video/May/31/PortSheldonMay312013_20hh15mm01ss.mp4.php

The camera is experimental. There is one in Lake Michigan and another in Lake Erie, Verhamme said. The images will be used by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration forecasters to verify current conditions and to estimate visibility on the water.

The buoy was first put in the water last year two miles off Tunnel Park. It sends back wind speed and direction, air temperature, relative humidity, pressure, wave height and period and surface water temperature. The program was started by the Holland Board of Public Works, Holland Area Convention and Visitors Bureau, Louis Padnos Iron and Metal and LimnoTech. Supporters also included the Holland Area Sailing Council, Holland Steelheaders, the Community Foundation of the Holland Zeeland Area, Anchorage Marina and the Surfrider Foundation of Lake Michigan.

This year, charter boat groups from Holland and Grand Haven and the Grand Haven Steelheaders paid for a device that measures temperature of the lake from the surface to the bottom, Verhamme added.

A $100,000 grant from the Great Lakes Observing System is funding a large part of the purchase, deployment, maintenance and retrieval of the buoy for the next three years, though supporters are needed for the camera.

“We’re trying to see if it’s useful and bring it back next year,” Verhamme said.

The buoy was put in Lake Michigan on May 22 with the help from NOAA’s Great Lakes Environmental Research Lab in Muskegon. It’s halfway between the Grand Haven and Holland areas, two of the busiest boating and beach communities on the Great Lakes, Verhamme said.