Fisherman and other boaters can see first-hand the conditions on Lake Michigan at Michigan City through almost live images of the lake posted on a web page.
A high definition video television camera was recently installed on a 10-story condominium building on the beach at Washington Park by Access LaPorte County, the local public access television station.
The camera on the roof of the Dunescape Beach Club can also be rotated 360 degrees by a staff member using a smart phone to show festivals and other special events occurring elsewhere at the park.
Images of the annual Great Lakes Grand Prix featuring power boats racing across the water at 100 miles per hour or more will also be shown.
The images captured by the video camera are not live, but updated every 5 minutes, said Mike Dempsey, director of operations for Access LaPorte County.
Visit Michigan City LaPorte Executive Director Jack Arnett said the website images can help people like fishermen and recreational boaters wondering about lake conditions before deciding whether to venture out.
The images Thursday showed the lake with winds out of the south being flat with the familiar lighthouse in the background.
"Weather is the name of the game in the summer. This is just another way to give folks to quick access. That's as local as it gets," Arnett said.
Having an almost current image of the lakefront is also a good way of promoting Michigan City and a link to the same updated images will soon be included on the Visit Michigan LaPorte webpage.
By Monday, Dempsey said a tab for weather information will be added to the upper right hand corner of the website.
Clicking the tab reveals live weather conditions like current temperature, the speed and direction of the wind along with the barometric pressure in addition to the almost live image.
"I'm so excited about it," Dempsey said.
Another bonus is providing images of sunsets and other lake views to senior citizens and the disabled unable to drive to the lakefront or people from here who now live elsewhere wanting to catch a glimpse, said Jerry Cooley, president of the board of directors for Access LaPorte County.
"It brings it closer to people who can't go to the lake," Cooley said.
Another bonus could be helping law enforcement prove who committed acts of vandalism and other crimes that might occur at the park, because the camera has a high power zoom lens.
"Even the police department can view it if they have trouble on the beachfront," Cooley said.
The website is accesslaportecounty.org.