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VERIFY: Is Lake Michigan The Most Dangerous Lake?

After seeing a social media post claiming Lake Michigan as the most dangerous lake in the country, we set out to VERIFY if that is true. Here's what we found!

LAKE, MICHIGAN, Mich. — Living in West Michigan we’ve all heard the stories of tragedy in and along the Lake Michigan shoreline. So when a post on Facebook by a page called MichiganMae claimed Lake Michigan as the most dangerous in the country and in the top 10 worldwide, we wanted to verify these claims.

In order to do that we reached out to Bobby Pratt, the executive director of Education with the Great Lakes Surf Rescue Project. We asked Pratt about the claim of Lake Michigan being the most dangerous lake in the United States and this is what he told us:

"Well, you need to remember that Lake Michigan is a huge body of water, it's more like an inland sea than it is a lake," he said. "So to try and compare Lake Michigan to, you know, to Higgins Lake or to Lake Tahoe or, you know, some some other lake across the country. The first thing of note is that just by sheer size alone, it will have more drownings."

So, what if we are only considering the Great Lakes, how does it compare then?

Pratt answered "typically we average just under 100 fatal drownings every year in the five Great Lakes and Lake Michigan typically has about half. So, Lake Michigan has the most drownings of all five Great Lakes, almost [as many] as the other four put together. So it is much more dangerous than the other Great Lakes."

So we can verify that Lake Michigan is the most dangerous lake in the United States, but what about being one of the top 10 most dangerous in the world? The answer there is a bit more uncertain. 

When asked about that question, Pratt said the following:

"You know, I don't know where that statistic came from. I know, there was a study done probably 20 years ago that identified the southern end of Lake Michigan as being one of the most dangerous places in the whole United States, both not just for lakes but for any beaches. But I haven't seen any research recently about that."

While we weren't able to find a source to back this claim up either, a Google search for "top 10 most dangerous lakes" will return a number of articles and videos, most with Lake Michigan in their top 10 most dangerous lists. So, given this result, we rate this claim as plausible. 

At the end of the day, Pratt would like you to remember the following.

"Drowning can happen in a backyard pool, it can happen at a small inland lake. So it's very important that people take water safety seriously and that they simply follow basic precautions."

To see my full interview with Bobby Pratt about the dangers of Lake Michigan, watch the YouTube video below. 

-- Meteorologist Michael Behrens

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Email me at: MBehrens@13OnYourSide.com

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