at 5:18 AM
Mouro Lighthouse, Spain
Image via wunderground
From Cuba to Wales, coastal regions around the world are exposed to their fair share of storms. Yet while coastal residents get cozy inside with a good book and a hot thermos, what if “inside” meant being stuck in a lighthouse? Nothing more than a few bricks in a ferocious sea really. Tirelessly guiding those stuck in bad weather, lighthouses suffer silently, maybe slightly creaking in the wind and braving any storm like true pillars of strength. See for yourself.
Speaking of pillars of strength, it’s interesting how many websites with a religious touch use lighthouses in storms as a metaphor for their message. It’s probably because it’s easy to grasp: haven’t we all felt as if we were being pounded by big waves while still standing our ground? Oh, got it, guess the lighthouse would be a metaphor for God. Righto. But undoubtedly, when waves as big as the one in the next picture loom large, anyone would start praying for help.
Kereon Lighthouse in Brittany, France:
Image: Jean Guichard
One would think that the most spectacular images of lighthouses being pounded by a fierce storm would be those battling it out in the ocean. Residents of Lake Michigan, however, will disagree as they can’t complain of not having their fair share of spectacular lakeshore action. The frequent storms draw spectators happy to get drenched as long as their cameras get away unscathed.
South Haven Lighthouse – don’t miss the huge icicles on the bridge:
Image: Sarah Spaulding
Sheboygan Lighthouse on Lake Michigan, clearly weather beaten:
Image via University of Wisconsin
Lake Michigan’s Grand Haven lighthouse pounded by the waves:
Image: Lori Niedenfuer Cool
And here, totally frozen over and in a storm – can’t beat this image:
Image: Michigan Travel Bureau via EPA
Here’s the Oswego Lighthouse on Lake Ontario in New York state:
Image via lakeshoreimages
And the lighthouse keepers? Do they have to fear for their lives as the waves crash around them, often engulfing the lighthouse completely? Well, most of the lighthouses pictured here are unmanned even though they may have a house-like structure attached to them. People still need to check on the machinery once in a while, especially the lamps, but in most locations, there’s no need for anyone living in a lighthouse year-round.
The lighthouse in Seaham, Durham County, UK being dwarfed by the waves:
And another lighthouse in the North Sea getting pounded by waves and 130 km/h winds:
The lighthouse in Porthcawl on the South Wales coast getting swallowed by the waves:
Image: Nick Russill
In La Jument, Brittany, in France, however, one lighthouse keeper got the shock of his life when he was waiting for a rescue helicopter during a fierce storm in 1989. Upon hearing the sound of an approaching helicopter, he went outside, ready to be picked up. Only it wasn’t his rescue ‘copter but photographer Jean Guichard’s. Guichard was out to get some amazing shots of the picturesque lighthouse in the storm when he captured the lighthouse keeper as well in a photograph that went around the world.
The photograph that made La Jument in Brittany famous:
Image: Jean Guichard
The lighthouse keeper who investigated was able to retreat back inside before the big wave crashed around the lighthouse. Phew! Brittany is a region that seems especially storm-prone. The peninsula in northwestern France is situated between the British Channel and the Bay of Biscay and its coastline is dotted with lighthouses.
The lighthouse of Ar-Men in Brittany engulfed by a wave:
Image: Jean Guichard
Three lighthouses braving the storm in Tempete, Brittany:
Image: Alain Feulvarch
Given these kind of dangers, it is not surprising that the last manned lighthouse was built in the US in 1962. Modern lighthouses are automated structures in inaccessible locations where functionality matters more than aesthetics. Lighthouse structures directly constructed in the water are called wave-washed lights because they have to withstand the constant impact of the water.
A fair bit of wave washing at El Malecon, Havannah’s famous seaside walkway:
Mouro Island is a marine nature reserve in the province of Cantabria in northern Spain, just off the port of Santander. Though the region profits from the Gulf Stream bringing warmer water, the coastline is exposed to the Atlantic and does see pretty fierce storms, especially in the winter. Our very first and very last image show the walls of water that the Mouro Lighthouse has to withstand.
Dramatic – Mouro Lighthouse, Spain:
Image: Marina Cano