Coast Guard warns of gale force winds on Lake Michigan

Crew members from Coast Guard Station Grand Haven, Mich., aboard a 47-foot Motor Life Boat train during a period of heavy weather near the pier heads on Lake Michigan, Nov. 18, 2013. The crew wore dry suits, helmets and were belted in as the weather forecast called for 11-13 foot seas. (U.S. Coast Guard photo courtesy of Charles Dewitt/Released)

Crew members from Coast Guard Station Grand Haven, Mich., aboard a 47-foot Motor Life Boat train during a period of heavy weather near the pier heads on Lake Michigan. (U.S. Coast Guard photo courtesy of Charles Dewitt/Released)

MILWAUKEE — Coast Guard Sector Lake Michigan urges anyone going on or near the water Wednesday to use extreme caution and be aware of the weather that will be affecting the area over the next few days.

The National Weather Service in Milwaukee issued a gale warning for all of Lake Michigan effective from Wednesday evening through Thursday morning.

Winds are expected to gust to more than 50 mph across the lake, and waves are forecast to build to more than 15 feet.

These heavy winds, high waves and driving rain will create dangerous conditions for anyone on the water.

“Operating a vessel in gale conditions requires experience and properly equipped vessels,” said Dennis Vancleve, of the National Weather Service. “The National Weather Service recommends that mariners without the proper experience seek safe shelter prior to the onset of gale conditions.”

The risks are also high for those who venture out on the lakefront.

This fall, the Coast Guard responded to multiple instances of people being swept off of waterfront structures, such as jetties or piers, during periods of large wave action all across Lake Michigan. Unfortunately, many of those cases resulted in fatalities.

Any mariners who do encounter hazardous conditions or people in distress are requested to contact the Sector Lake Michigan Command Center at 414-747-7190 or on marine radio channel 16.

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