Swim risk ‘high’ on parts of Lake Michigan this Memorial Day

NWS: Dangerous swimming conditions in Mason, Oceana, Muskegon counties on May 30-31

Photo by Matt Hardy on Unsplash (Unsplash)

A number of beaches along Michigan’s western coast have been placed under a “high” risk warning this Memorial Day due to dangerous water conditions.

The National Weather Service has issued a warning for beaches in Mason, Oceana and Muskegon counties along Lake Michigan for Monday, May 30, and for Tuesday, May 31. Officials say that wave heights will reach between 3 to 5 feet, currents are strong and the water is cold, creating dangerous swimming conditions and potentially dangerous conditions for those near the water.

“Strong currents can pull swimmers into deeper water and high waves can sweep people off piers,” the NWS’ warning reads. “Water temperatures in the 40s to near 50 will also make swimming difficult and dangerous, even for strong swimmers.”

Anyone in the affected counties this holiday weekend is urged not to go into the water and to avoid piers.

The nearby counties of Ottawa, Manistee, Benzie and Leelanau are currently experiencing a “moderate” swim and rip current risk. Beaches along southern Schoolcraft County in the Upper Peninsula are also under a high risk warning.

Click here to see a map of the affected areas.

If your beach has a flag warning system, be sure to check the flag throughout the day, as conditions can rapidly change.

  • Green flag: Enter the water, but be aware of changing conditions.
  • Yellow flag: Caution. Watch for dangerous currents and high waves.
  • Red flag: Stay on the beach. Do not enter the water. Do not swim.

If you are caught in a rip current, do not try to swim against the current. Instead, experts say you should remain calm and assess which way the current is pulling you, then swim perpendicular to the current’s flow until you are out of it. Then swim toward shore.

More safety information: Michigan reminds swimmers to be safe this summer in the Great Lakes

About the Author:

Cassidy Johncox is a senior digital news editor covering stories across the spectrum, with a special focus on politics and community issues.