Lake Michigan - Grand Haven State Park Beach

FILE - Grand Haven State Park Beach (Photo: Marisa Fusinski/WWJ)

Warning: Huge Waves, Dangerous Swimming Conditions At Michigan Beaches Today

August 22, 2018 - 10:21 am
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PORT HURON (WWJ) - For your own safety, use caution if you're headed to the beach today. 

A Beach Hazard Statement, along with a Small Boat Advisory, is in effect Wednesday, with high wave action and dangerous swimming conditions expected across a portion of the Great Lakes, where people are urged to stay out of the water. 

Included in the advisory are Michigan beaches on Saginaw Bay, along the northern Thumb shorelines to Port Huron, including the following beaches: Caseville, Sand Point, Port Crescent State Park, Port Austin, Harbor Beach, Port Sanilac, Lexington, Birch Beach, Lakeport, Fort Gratiot, Port Huron; as well as beaches along western Lake Erie. 

The same warning is in effect for the Lake Michigan shoreline, from Grand Haven north to Manistee -- where the National Weather Service is warning of monster waves from six to 10 feet, along with winds up to 35 miles per hour. This includes Muskegon State Park, Mears State Park in Pentwater and Stearns Park in Ludington.

The warning, which runs through 8 p.m. Wednesday, comes after five people have either drowned or gone missing in Lake Michigan over the last seven days. 

High wave action alone can make swimming difficult on days such as this, officials say, as incoming waves in rapid succession can tire a swimmer quickly. With this in mind, beach-goers are warned not to go swimming and are also advised to stay off the piers, as high waves are expected to hit them.

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

The National Weather Service is also warning that big waves will bring much colder water to the surface of Lake Michigan -- what's called an upwelling -- posing a risk of hypothermia, muscle cramps, and reflexive inhalation to anyone who jumps into the water.

Forcasters warn that temperatures that topped 80 degrees at some beaches in the last week could be in the 50s by Wednesday afternoon. 

Officials say children should not enter the water unsupervised and without a certified flotation device; and caution should be used when in or near the water. Beach-goers are advised to pay attention to flags and signs posted near beach access points and lifeguard stations.

To learn more about dangerous waves and currents, visit dangerouscurrents.org