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2020 is the deadliest year on Lake Michigan in a decade

Fifty-three people have drowned in Lake Michigan so far this year.
Credit: South Haven Area Emergency Services

Lake Michigan drownings have reached a record high in 2020, according to the Great Lakes Surf Rescue Project (GLSRP).

So far in 2020, 53 people have drowned in Lake Michigan — an all-time high since the advocacy group started keeping track ten years ago. The previous record high was in 2012, with 49 Lake Michigan drownings.

Along with the confirmed drownings, GLSRP says there are four Lake Michigan drowning incidents where the victims were last listed at “critical condition,” “unknown condition” or “missing.” The project is waiting for updates on these incidents.

This year, 94 drownings have occurred between all the Great Lakes. Lake Michigan has taken the most lives (53), followed by Lake Ontario (17), Lake Erie (13), Lake Huron (9) and Lake Superior (2).

Since 2010, 931 people have drowned in the Great Lakes, according to GLSRP.

When waves are high or flags are up, people are asked not to enter the water or venture onto piers. This year, large waves have swept multiple people off piers in South Haven and Grand Haven. 

Beach goers are also reminded to pay close attention to the flags and water conditions. Here's a breakdown of what each means according to the Ottawa County Health Department:

Green = Safe Conditions

Yellow = Elevated Risk, Proceed with Caution 

Red = Do NOT Enter the Water. The water conditions are extremely hazardous and can include strong rip currents as well as structural currents. Even the strongest swimmers struggle in these conditions and may drown.

Credit: GLSRP

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