Coast Guard warns of Lake Michigan beach hazards

rip currentsMILWAUKEE – The Coast Guard is warning beachgoers of hazardous beach conditions along the eastern half of Lake Michigan this weekend.

Dangerous swimming conditions and rip currents have been responsible for numerous deaths on Lake Michigan this summer.

Large, life threatening waves and currents are expected at some Lake Michigan beaches and the Coast Guard urges all people visiting the lakeshore to stay out of the water when hazard warnings are in effect.

Rip currents are powerful channels of water flowing quickly away from the shore which occur most often at low spots or breaks in sandbars. These dangerous currents can pull even experienced swimmers far offshore away from the beach. Swimmers often get into trouble trying to swim back to shore after being sucked out.

“During times of heavy winds and high seas, please stay off walls, piers and breakwalls and certainly do not try and swim near them,” said Cmdr. Leanne Lusk, Coast Guard Sector Lake Michigan’s search and rescue coordinator. “It is safest to watch the large waves from a safe vantage point like a park or parking lot at least 25 feet from the water. However if you do find yourself caught in a rip current, relax and swim parallel to the beach until you are out of the current.”

The Coast Guard has responded to an unusually high number of swimming and paddlecraft related incidents along the Lake Michigan shoreline this summer.

“We have had numerous cases this summer involving structural currents, which form along piers and breakwalls where north and south currents and wave action flow into the structures and sweep swimmers out into deeper water, making rescue efforts even more difficult,” Lusk said.

A beach hazard statement has been issued and is in effect from Saturday morning until Sunday morning. Beachgoers are encouraged to heed all weather warnings and when at the beach, check to see if any warning flags are up or ask a lifeguard about any other water conditions, beach conditions, or any potential hazards.

For the latest information on expected conditions at Lake Michigan beaches, check;

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