Dangerous swim conditions at Lake Michigan beaches

Mark Brooky • Sep 26, 2017 at 5:30 PM

A beach hazards statement is in effect for Lake Michigan beaches from St. Joseph to Manistee until midnight Wednesday.

The National Weather Service office in Grand Rapids says high wave action, strong currents and dangerous swimming conditions are expected through late tonight (Wednesday).

Beaches with particularly dangerous conditions include North Beach in South Haven, Holland State Park, Muskegon State Park, Mears State Park in Pentwater and Stearns Park in Ludington.

Hazardous conditions:

— Strong structural currents expected.

— Strong longshore currents expected.

— Rip currents possible.

Overview/potential impacts:

— A strong cold front has moved through southwest and west Michigan and the winds have shifted.

— We’ll see north-to-northwest winds of 15-25 mph, with higher gusts, through this evening.

— These winds will continue to result in waves of 3-5 feet into this evening, and create strong structural and longshore currents and possible rip currents.

Precautionary/preparedness actions:

— High wave action makes swimming difficult and can tire even a strong swimmer quickly.

— Structural currents form along piers where longshore currents and wave action flow into the structure. Structural currents can sweep you out into deeper water along the pier structure.

— A longshore current is a lake current that moves parallel to shore. Longshore currents can be strong enough to prevent swimmers from being able to keep their feet on the bottom, making it difficult to return to shore.

— Rip currents are powerful channels of water flowing quickly away from shore, which occur most often at low spots or breaks in sandbars. Rip currents can sweep you into deeper water.

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