NWS: Dangerous waves Saturday; stay out of Lake Michigan

Weather

HOLLAND, Mich. (WOOD) — Swimmers, beware: The National Weather Service is warning about dangerous beach conditions expected Saturday along the Lake Michigan shoreline.

A Beach Hazard Statement will go into effect at 12 a.m. Saturday and continue until 12 a.m. Sunday.

Winds will come in from the southwest at 10-20 mph Saturday morning and pick up to 15-25 mph by the afternoon. The high winds will help waves build to 4-6 feet.

Graphic shows hazardous beach outlook for Saturday

It will be a good day to avoid the piers, as waves could wash over and sweep a person off. Dangerous longshore and structural currents are anticipated.

A longshore current is a current that runs parallel to the shore. These are dangerous because they can keep a swimmer’s feet from touching the bottom and prevent a swimmer from making it back to the shore.

When longshore currents and waves flow into a structure, a structural current forms. A structural current moves along a pier or another structure, and can sweep the swimmer into deep water.

Chart shows how longshore and structural currents form

Rip currents will also be possible Saturday. A rip current is a narrow channel of water that flows between breaks in sandbars or low spots on the bottom of the lake. This current can quickly pull a swimmer away from shore into deep water, and can essentially happen at any beach with breaking water.

The dangerous conditions come as Grand Haven celebrates opening weekend of its Coast Guard Festival. The 10-day event typically draws 300,000 to 350,000 to the lakeshore.

The Ottawa County Marine Division will add patrols along the shoreline over the weekend. Deputies are urging visitors to pay attention to beach flags that indicate the conditions on the water.

A Lakeshore Flood Advisory will also go into effect for Saturday. Beach erosion and minor beach flooding will be possible.

Map shows four counties under lakeshore flood advisory
A map shows four lakeshore counties under a Lakeshore Flood Advisory Saturday, July 27, 2019.

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