The seiche

Section: 
Editorial

The Great Lakes, like all inland seas, have tides.

 

Unless you’re a boater or fisher, you likely don’t notice the tide on Lake Huron. Still, the tide is distinctive enough, says the late W. Sherwood Fox in his book, The Bruce Beckons, that it has its own name, seiche (pronounced saysh).

 

According to Fox, the primary seiche in Lake Huron is the powerful current that operates north and south between Point Edward and the islands of the North Shore.

 

The secondary seiche or tide is the current along the shore that goes east and then west.

 

On occasion, people can’t help but notice the seiche. Thursday, I received a call from a reader living north of Kincardine. The eastward current had moved a lot of water, leaving a sandbar, normally under water, high and dry.

 

A large change in the level of the lake is not uncommon. I’ve seen the water in the Penetangore River flow the wrong way and I’ve seen its level drop dramatically.

 

Fox describes a number of large tides or seiches that have occurred on the peninsula.

 

His book also has a long quote from the Canadian Hydrographic Service, Great Lakes Pilot, vol II, Lake Huron and Georgian Bay (1948 ed.) pp. xxviii-xxix  that outlines the effect the seiche  can have on the shore of the lake. “Generally speaking, a pronounced  increase in the normal seiche range precedes a storm approaching from offshore.”

 

The quote then describes a seiche on July 16, 1931 at Edward that preceded a violent wind and electrical storm. The water in the lake rose 18.5 inches in 30 minutes and fell 46 inches in less than two hours. The lake continued to rise and fall dramatically for more than 24 hours before returning to its normal range of a few inches.

 

You likely remember, after Thursday morning's seiche, that we had a violent storm that evening.

 

**

 

There has been a high-level seiche of publicity over the return of Conrad Black to Canada.

 

Black, no doubt because of his considerable ego, seems to enrage many Canadians.

 

When he was offered a peerage in England, former Prime Minister Jean Chretien said Black would have to give up his Canadian citizenship if he wanted to sit in Britain’s House of Lords.

 

The citizenship was given up with disdain.

 

The leader of the opposition was almost frothing at the mouth last week after he heard Black was being allowed back into Canada. He referred to Black as that British criminal.

 

Personally, I could care less if Black lives in Canada.

 

He grew up here, was educated here and ran businesses here. We allow worse criminals than Black into the country on a regular basis.

 

And for someone born with the proverbial silver spoon in his mouth, he apparently served his jail time like a man.

 

Perhaps the real reason people don’t like Black is that he’s likely smarter than 99.9 per cent of us - I don’t know anyone with a better vocabulary.