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Photos: Lake Superior ice goes out at Apostle Islands mainland sea caves

This sequence of photos, provided by the National Park Service, shows the ice going out along the Lake Superior shore near Cornucopia on Sunday. The time of each photo can be found in the upper-left corner of each image.

In just a few hours on Sunday, Lake Superior and Mother Nature put an emphatic end to the ice season at the mainland sea caves of the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore near Cornucopia.

These images from a webcam, provided courtesy of the National Park Service, show that section of the shore going from solid ice at 11:30 a.m. Sunday to completely broken up by 1 p.m. By 5:30 p.m. most of the ice had drifted out of sight of the camera perched atop the bluffs. Click on the image for a larger view.

The ice-bedecked sea caves drew tens of thousands of visitors to Bayfield County earlier this year, when they were accessible for the first time for the first time in five years; the caves' popularity, fueled in large part by social media, was a welcome financial windfall for local businesses.

The access from Meyers Beach just east of Cornucopia had been closed to the public since mid-March, when the lake ice started to deteriorate. The cracks and fissures finally gave way in short order on Sunday, no doubt aided by easterly winds gusting to near 40 mph that helped disperse the ice.

Go to the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore Facebook page for a link to more photos of the ice conditions at the sea caves.