Antelope Island’s Winter Winds

January 04, 2016

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Photographer:  Ray Boren
Summary Author:  Ray BorenJanuary 2016 Viewer's Choice

One winter’s day after another of northern Utah’s parade of recent snowstorms, the skies turned blue over Great Salt Lake, offering an opportunity to visit Antelope Island, the lake’s largest. The entire island is a state park, 15 mi (24 km) long and up to 5 mi (8 km) wide, known for dramatic Great Basin views, wildlife, scenic roads, trails and ancient rocks, including gneiss 1.7 billion years old — the age of rocks at the bottom of the Grand Canyon.

“I’ve come to see what’s happening on the island,” I told a woman at the entry station at the beginning of the Davis County Causeway, which connects Antelope Island State Park to the mainland to its east.

“You mean, besides the wind?” she replied.

After the cold front and an attendant lake-effect snowstorm had passed to the south and east, over Salt Lake City and toward the Wasatch Mountains, strong prevailing winds out of the northwest and west were whipping loose snow across the 7-mile-long (11 km) causeway and the island roads, creating intermittent drifts and icy conditions. Even more dramatic was the effect on Antelope Island’s shores, benches, plains and mountainous central ridge. In the photo at top above, taken on Dec. 23, 2015, streaming snow blasts through a boulder field on the island’s northeast side. The Sun is beginning to set, and the light’s low angle and longer wavelength colors help tint the scene. In the bottom photo, snow is being stirred in ephemeral waves, swirls and columns off the jagged terrain of Frary Peak, the island’s highest point at 6,596 ft (2,010 m).

Photo Details: Top - Camera Model: NIKON D3200; Lens: Sigma 150-500mm F5-6.3 DG OS APO HSM; Focal Length: 380mm (35mm equivalent: 570mm); Aperture: ƒ/11.0; Exposure Time: 0.0020 s (1/500); ISO equiv: 250. Bottom - same except: Focal Length: 170mm (35mm equivalent: 255mm); ISO equiv: 160.