Swimmers, beware: Great Lakes beaches pose risks today

The Detroit News

Michiganians and their visitors ready for fun in the sun along both Lake Michigan and Lake Huron should heed warnings before the Fourth of July holiday: beach conditions will be dangerous.

High winds and potentially dangerous conditions continue Friday. Waves could reach as high as 5 feet with life-threatening rip currents, according to the National Weather Service.

While waves may diminish, the risk remains. "Life-threatening currents are expected through Friday night, even during periods of low wave heights," the weather service says.

Risks for swimmers in Michigan today include areas along Lake Huron and Lake Michigan.

"Dangerous currents can pull swimmers into deeper water and high waves can sweep people off piers."

The forecast for the end of the week and the holiday weekend promises summer warmth in the 70s and 80s, and mostly sunny to partly cloudy skies. But it's the wind that will propel the danger.

"Swimming will be discouraged at West Michigan beaches, with dangerous conditions developing near the Points and from Holland southward," the weather service's Grand Rapids office says.

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Berrien County in southwest Michigan is under high risk for swimmers, while Van Buren and Allegan county beaches are listed as moderate risks. On the eastern side of the state, the National Weather Service puts swimmers at Huron, St. Clair and Sanilac county beaches at high risk. 

"There is an increased risk of rip currents for the shoreline of Lake Huron through early this evening," the National Weather Service said Friday.

The risk in Lake Michigan extends south and west, to beaches in Indiana and Illinois.

There have been 16 drownings in Lake Michigan in 2021, according to the Great Lakes Surf Rescue Project, a group that tracks water safety and accidents on the Great Lakes. There have been five drownings in Lake Huron.

For more information, check the National Weather Service's beach hazard monitor.