Huge Wreck on US 131, Lake Effect Snow, Grand Haven Lighthouse Waves

12/18/15 – This was a day for lake effect snow. The models had been showing it, so I set out with my friend Cort Scholten to document the event. We expected it to be a good day for weather.

We met up at a carpool lot and then took his car down to the Lake Michigan shoreline. The snow was struggling to get going strong, so we decided to head down to Grand Haven and enjoy some of the wave action along the lighthouse pier. Below is a video and a collection of images from our time at Grand Haven, MI. This is one of Michigan’s best lighthouses, so photogenic! A must see if you’re visiting Michigan. We also found some cool frozen sand formations along the beach called “Hoodoos”. They’re pretty cool! The waves were pretty turbulent also.

After that, we drove down to Holland, where the lake effect snow was beginning to get it’s act together. Some heavier snow showers began to move off of the big lake. These snow showers were rather high based for lake effect, and they were short lived, but they made for some interesting and ominous scenes. Check out the photos below. I found some more neat sand formations, and also shot some snow blowing along a fence row on the beach!

Finally, we headed north on US 131 toward a heavy snow squall that extended inland. The squall looked ominous, similar to a thunderstorm’s shelf cloud. We continued north, only to see that traffic was backed up for a few miles. We checked Google Traffic and there was a wreck reported via the Waze app, so we decided to get off 131 and go north to check it out. The drive there was hairy, thanks to the snow which turned to ice almost instantly as folks drove over it. I shot some footage of the traffic backup and snowfall, those photos are below.

Once we got to Indian Lakes Rd and US 131, we discovered that the wreck which was reported, was much bigger than expected. 50+ vehicles involved. Vehicles flipped over in the ditch, vehicles crashed altogether along the roadside, etc. It was an absolute mess that shut down southbound 131. We talked to a fellow who was in the crash, he said they were all going along just fine and then suddenly vehicles started sliding every which way, and they all wrecked as the snow turned the road quickly to ice. This was a massive pileup, and it took a long time to clean it up. Below is a video of the crash, and photos of it as well. Below the photos is a video of a motorist who had trouble stopping, and slid onto the shoulder of 13 mile rd. There’s also a photo of a truck that rolled over on M-57.

All in all, this event turned into something much bigger than I expected! The best part was, no serious injuries or deaths were reported.

Chuck Russell

I shoot photos and videos of various different types of events related to weather, nature, motorsports, breaking news, and more and share what I capture with the world at

One Comment:

  1. Very nbicely documented and some awesome pics.

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