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Dangerous swim conditions expected on Lake Michigan Labor Day weekend

Waves are taking over Lake Michigan making for very hazardous swim conditions.

GRAND RAPIDS CHARTER TOWNSHIP, Mich. — When waves are high, stay dry!

Strong currents and high waves are leading to dangerous swim conditions. This is due to persistent WNW winds at 10 to 20 mph, leading to beach hazard statements and red flag warnings to extend from the Tip of the Mitt to St. Joseph. 

Credit: 13 On Your Side

These crashing waves will pose the strongest risk today at 3 to 6 feet. Saturday and Sunday they will still be dangerous at 2 to 4 feet. Monday they are expected to return to very dangerous at 3 to 5 feet. 

The U.S. Coast Guard Station in Grand Haven has been busy this summer. Master Chief Kirk McKay reminds people Lake Michigan can often be a calm lake, but it has it's own set of hazards. He calls it, "like a little ocean."

"We’ve actually seen an increase over the summer on Lake Michigan in the way of rescues," said McKay, "I believe we’ve heard there’s an increase in boating sales, and little more traffic on the water. So, I think that’s what we’ve seen this summer."

People visiting Grand Haven this weekend noticed a difference in visitors compared to previous years, both due to the winds and the pandemic. 

"It’s usually busy," said Rebecca Proctor, "There’s a lot of people camping, at the beach, cooking out. We usually see a lot more boaters than this. It’s crazy to come down here and not see a single boat on the water."

Others watch their children splash in the water, but warn them not to get too far out with the red flag warnings waving nearby. 

"With all of the things I’ve heard, the drownings that have happened here frequently," said LeeAnn Reyers, "It make me nervous, makes me anxious. I don’t want my kids in the water. Up to their feet is as far as I want them to get in."

Drowning in the Great Lakes are most common when waves are 3 to 6 feet tall. Here are a few things to keep in mind: 

Credit: 13 On Your Side


Always remember that the calm area between the water is NOT where you want to swim. This is often a rip current. This will cause you to be swept away from the shoreline quickly and you will want to follow the "flip, float, and follow" guidelines. Here are a few other guidelines to be educated on before heading to the beach: 

Credit: 13 On Your Side

Stay alert and stay safe! 

RELATED: Two children rescued at South Haven beach after getting caught in rip currents

RELATED: Practicing water safety and COVID-19 precautions this Labor Day Weekend

RELATED: 2 teens rescued after being swept off Grand Haven pier

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