Shoreline Safety

July 5th, 2013 at 2:09 am by under Bill's Blog, Weather

Great Lakes Drownings 2002-2011  Great Lakes DRownings part 2Click the graphics to enlarge.  This is Great Lakes drownings and water rescues from 2002 – 2011.  Note that most of the incidents have occurred in Lake Michigan and that many rescues are related to structures.  Lake Superior is often pretty cold for swimming.  Lakes Erie and Ontario are smaller and the American side is the leeward side with the prevailing SW winds of summer.  Lake Michigan is big, generally warmer, with lots of nice sandy beaches.  Michigan is also  often on the downwind side of the prevailing wind.  64% of the drownings/rescues are related to breakwaters (we sometimes call them piers, but they are truly breakwaters – they break the water, it can’t flow underneath.   In general, days that are breezy or windy are days when currents are more apt to form.   The breakwater currents occur when the wind pushes the surface water and the water “piles up” against the breakwater.  The water has no place to go, but to go around the breakwater, creating a current that will move out toward deeper water.  At Grand Haven St. Park, this will occur with a south or southwest wind.   At Pentwater and Holland St. Park, this occurs with a north wind.   To be safe, it’s best not to swim very close to a breakwater, but remember currents occur when the prevailing wind is pushing water against the breakwater.   The most likely wave height when there was a beach incident was 2-4 feet.  At this height, many people are in the water, splashing in the waves.  Watch for the flags (green, yellow or red) that are posted at many of the lake beaches.  Click here for more information on rip currents and beach safely.

4 Responses to “Shoreline Safety”

  1. Daniel G says:

    Look for the flags? The red just means that more people will TRY to beat the odds…and loose. “I am stronger then any old wave or water, it won’t hurt ME!” Oh yes it will and does every year.
    C’est la vie.

  2. Kimoeagle says:

    Good advice, Bill…..

  3. GunLakeDeb says:

    People get warned by the Weather Broadcasters; the lifeguards; the flag systems; plus signs placed at beaches regarding rip currents. Yet STILL they go out to jump off the breakwaters or play in the big waves. Some will pay for their recklessness with their lives – and I can’t imagine what else could be done to stop them from their folly……

  4. Jack says:

    CUE, Bobby Freeman, “C’Mon and SWIM “::::::: ;-) . Remember This ONE BILL ? ;-)

Leave a Reply