Dangerous swimming, hypothermia warnings for Great Lakes

By Tanda Gmiter
MLive.com, Walker, Mich.

WHITEHALL, Mich. — Warnings about dangerous waves and strong currents along the Lake Michigan shoreline — and stretches of Lake Huron — continued into Wednesday night for some areas of the state.

And just to add in a little late-August weirdness, the National Weather Service is cautioning people about the cold water in parts of Lake Michigan, saying it could cause hypothermia.

Temps in Lake Michigan dropped sharply between Tuesday and Wednesday. It’s called upwelling, and happened when Tuesday’s strong north wind that build tall waves along the lakeshore also pushed cold water from lower in the lake up to its surface.

In some cases, surface temperatures that were nearing 80 last week have dropped into the 50s. At least one spot dipped into the 40s overnight.

“Water temperatures have dropped to the lower 40s north of Whitehall due to upwelling,” the NWS in Grand Rapids reported. “Prolonged exposure to the cold water could lead to hypothermia.”

An example: A buoy off the Ludington coast went from measure 73-degree temperatures at 3 p.m. Tuesday to 41 degrees by 1 a.m. Wednesday.

Looking at the potential for dangerous swimming conditions on Lake Huron Wednesday, Beach Hazard warnings are in place for the following Thumb counties until 9 p.m.: Tuscola, St. Clair, Monroe, Huron and Sanilac.

The warnings cover high waves and rough conditions near piers and breakwalls.

On Lake Michigan, beach hazard warning remain in effect for its entire eastern shore, from the Indiana border, all the way to the Mackinac Bridge, and around the Tip of the Mitt, dropping south to Presque Isle County.

“Waves in the 3 to 5 foot range are associated with an increased risk of drowning,” the weather service cautioned people today. “Those conditions are expected on Lake Michigan beaches on Wednesday. In addition, water temperatures at some beaches may have dropped sharply.”

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Posted by Tribune News Services

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