Skip to main content
Contribution to Book
The role of extratropical cyclones in shaping dunes along southern and southeastern Lake Michigan
Coastline and dune evolution along the Great Lakes (2014)
  • Brian Yurk, Hope College
  • Edward Hansen, Hope College
  • Suzzanne DeVries-Zimmerman, Hope College
  • Zoran Kilibarda
  • Deanna van Dijk, Calvin College
  • Brian Bodenbender, Hope College
  • A. Krehel, Hope College
  • T. Pennings, Hope College

This study investigates the impacts of extratropical cyclones on Lake Michigan dune complexes by integrating fi eld measurements and meteorological data from sites along the southeastern shore. Surface changes and wind velocities were monitored at Hoffmaster State Park, Saugatuck Harbor Natural Area, and Mount Baldy at Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore from October to April in 2010–2011 and 2011–2012. Over 70% of the events with wind speeds at least two standard deviations above the mean were associated with extratropical cyclones. The wind directions depended on the cyclone path, with westerly or southerly components most common. Local conditions moderated the effects of storm winds on surface change. The greatest surface changes measured in a trough blowout at Saugatuck Harbor Natural Area were associated with regional winds with a component blowing up the lee slope that produced bifurcated windfl ow within the trough. While the orientation of a given dune strongly infl uences the amount of surface change, it does not always follow a simple pattern deduced from dune geometry. Surface changes at Hoffmaster State Park and Saugatuck Harbor Natural Area during a normal winter (2010–2011) and an unusually warm winter (2011–2012) suggest that colder weather conditions inhibited net transfer of sand from the beach but had less impact away from the shore. Moisture also inhibited sand transport, but strong storm winds moved wet sand, sometimes over long distances at Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. Overall our results show that winds associated with extratropical cyclones play a vital role in the development of Lake Michigan dune complexes.

Publication Date
Summer 2014
Fisher, T.G., and Hansen, E., eds
Geological Society of America
Special Paper
Citation Information
Brian Yurk, Edward Hansen, Suzzanne DeVries-Zimmerman, Zoran Kilibarda, et al.. "The role of extratropical cyclones in shaping dunes along southern and southeastern Lake Michigan" Coastline and dune evolution along the Great Lakes Vol. 508 (2014)
Available at: