After years of planning, COVID delays, and assorted setbacks, a high-frequency radar (HFR) pair is now installed in the Straits of Mackinac, thanks to work by researchers Lorelle and Guy Meadows at Michigan Tech.

Images of high-frequncy radar installed near the Mackinac Bridge
Installation finished this month of the two radar antennas in the Straits of Mackinac, one at each end of the bridge. Photos by Lorelle Meadows, Michigan Tech.

This is the first HFR installed in the Great Lakes. It will provide a map of surface currents every hour to support:

  • Navigation and boater safety
  • Search and rescue operations
  • Spill response

“Being able to use remote sensing to measure real time surface currents over roughly a 10 square mile area in the Straits of Mackinac is an important regional accomplishment,” says Ana Sirviente, GLOS Chief Technology Officer.  “The narrow channel between Lakes Michigan and Huron sees strong oscillating currents in an area with pipelines underneath and heavy shipping traffic.”


Learn more about HFR technology.


A map shows current speed and direction arrows.
Data, like this from radar near New York City, will be available on the IOOS data assembly center, on, and, in the future, on Seagull.


A map shows the placement of the high-frequency radar at both ends of the Mackinac Bridge, alongside two buoys that also monitor the waterway
The radar pair, oriented westward due to the presence of the bridge, will build on other monitoring tools in the area, like buoys and numerical models. Image by Michigan Tech.
Data + Info Observing