Coast Guard warns mariners of hazardous lake conditions this weekend

Large waves crash along the breakwall at Diversey Harbor in Chicago after a winter storm brought gale force winds and waves as high as 10 feet to the area Feb. 25, 2016. The Coast Guard frequently responds to cases involving people swept off walls or piers due to rough seas, and encourages storm watchers to keep at a safe distance from these dangerous areas during periods of heavy weather. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Fireman Justin Zita)

Large waves crash along the breakwall at Diversey Harbor in Chicago. U.S. Coast Guard file photo by Fireman Justin Zita

CLEVELAND — The Coast Guard is urging caution across the waters of the Great Lakes due to potentially hazardous weather conditions throughout the weekend.

Gale watches and warnings have been issued for many areas throughout the Great Lakes for Saturday and continuing through the weekend.

According to the National Weather Service, a gale watch is issued when the risk of gale force winds of 39 to 54 mph has significantly increased but the specific timing and/or location is still uncertain. It is intended to provide additional lead time for mariners who may wish to consider altering their plans.

People visiting shoreline areas should exercise caution while the watches and warnings remain in effect. It is strongly encouraged to stay off rocks, jetties and piers, as high waves and heavy surf can unexpectedly sweep a person into the water.

Always check the weather forecast before recreating on or near the water. Staying aware of weather conditions could easily save your life. Even after hazardous weather patterns have moved through the area, it can still take an additional day for lake conditions to calm.

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