Forecast: Ideal summer weekend, but keep safety in mind

Hannah Mackay
The Detroit News

Michigan in July: This weekend's forecast promises great weather and nearly ideal lake conditions for fun in the summer sun.

But, experts warn, situations can change fast and a bit of precaution and preparation can keep you and your family safe as you enjoy beaches across the state.

Weather forecast: Excellent

Matt Gillen, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service, said the next chance of rain following this morning isn't likely until Sunday evening and winds will stay low. 

"It's looking like a true summer weekend here in Northern Michigan," Gillen said. "Swim risk pretty much across all of Northern Michigan at the Great Lakes beaches looks low for this weekend."

Temperatures will range from the low 70s to the mid-80s through Sunday and waves in the Great Lakes will remain under two feet, with the potential exception of three-foot waves today on Lake Michigan, the National Weather Service says.

This weekend's weather, July 8-10, 2022, looks nearly perfect for fun and for sun.

Lake safety risks

Gillen reminded beachgoers that a low swim risk does not mean there is no risk and to always exercise caution in and around the Great Lakes. 

Drownings annually:

This year so far, as many as 47 people have drowned in the Great Lakes, 19 in Lake Michigan and 2 in Lake Huron, according to the Great Lakes Surf Rescue Project. Totals for last year show 48 drownings in Lake Michigan and 13 in Lake Huron, while 2020 was a record-breaking year for Lake Michigan with 56 drowned.

Riptides:

The state Department of Natural Resources says powerful rip and structural currents and waves in the Great Lakes are a threat to all swimmers, even experienced ones. 

Bob Pratt, executive director of education for the Great Lakes Surf Rescue Project, said a majority of drowning victims know how to swim, noting there can be a big disconnect between swimming in pools versus open water.

Signs of drowning

"Lake Michigan poses a much bigger threat because it is so different than a pool, that a lot of times having really good swimming ability in a pool is not much of a help," he said. "Lake Michigan can be cold, it can be rough, there can be winds and currents and waves makes it a completely different experience."

Pratt said inland lakes also pose risks to swimmers.

"Sometimes there can be winds that are blowing things around, offshore winds that may take you fast and far away from shore, it can be weeds, there can be colder water," Pratt said.

What to do 

The NWS encourages swimmers to exercise caution near piers, breakwalls and river outlets. Similarly, the Department of Natural Resources says to never swim alone, keep close watch over children and check water conditions before heading to the beach

Pratt said life jackets keep swimmers very safe and recommended taking a flotation device into the water when swimming. He added that swimmers should be aware of where rescue equipment is and parents should designate a "water watcher" to monitor young children who are swimming. 

"Panic is the first stage of drowning," Pratt said. If you find yourself drowning, "flip over onto your back, which allows you to breathe whenever you want to, float to calm yourself down, float to conserve your energy, float to realize that as long as I can stay floating I can stay alive."

hmackay@detroitnews.com