For the first time since swimming season kicked off, Lake Michigan beaches are seeing dangerous and life-threatening waters. Northerly winds and large waves upwards of 3-7' are creating hazardous swimming conditions from Milwaukee to Chicago to St. Joseph and Grand Haven. These conditions also create a perfect recipe for very dangerous rip currents and swells. That is especially true near piers, jetties and river outlets. The threat will decrease for the weekend and next week, but will still be elevated for most beaches.
All beaches in both La Porte and Berrien Counties will see "moderately dangerous" swimming conditions Saturday thru early next week. The lone exception will be beaches around Michigan City, which will see a "low" swimming risk on Sunday. Regardless of the risk, the waters will not be as calm as they were during Memorial Day weekend. Waves will subside from 4-7' Friday night to 1-3' for the weekend and first half of next week. Waves of that height can still lead to dangerous swimming for inexperienced swimmers. Rip currents and breezy conditions will still be in play as well into next week.
Lake Michigan has seen the most drownings all of the Great Lakes since 2010. It has accounted for just under half of all Great Lakes drownings. As of June 1st, Lake Michigan has seen 296 drownings over the last 8 and a half years, including 40 just last year. While not all of those are rip-current and high surf-related, many have been. The National Weather Service suggests you do not swim in conditions like we are expected to see through Friday night. It's also important to remember to check the color of the beach flag before entering the water. A red beach flag means swimming is highly discouraged as doing so could result in injury or death.