Great Lakes Waves offer beauty, power & danger

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Untitled, photo by Scott Glenn

“These are not lakes, these are the world’s eighth seas, and her bottom is littered with the wreckage of over six thousand ships.”
~The Three Sisters, Song of the Lakes

This gorgeous shot of the St. Joseph Pier Lighthouses demonstrates the incredible power of Great Lakes waves. I live in Traverse City, and this summer it feels like Lake Michigan has claimed the lives of more people than normal. Whether or not that’s true (it’s not), I thought this photo offered the perfect opportunity to share some tips and tools for staying safe on Lake Michigan, Lake Huron, Lake Superior and Lake Erie!

  • Thinking of any of the Great Lakes as anything like any lake you’re familiar with is a mistake. They are freshwater seas that can pack  incredible power. They are stronger than you and can end your life in an instant if you don’t respect them.
  • The Great Lakes Surf Rescue Project is a nonprofit dedicated to drowning prevention that keeps track of drowning statistics: 74 in 2010, 87 in 2011, 101 in 2012 and 39 so far in 2013. (you can also keep up with them on Facebook)
  • Life jackets can save your life.  U.S. Coast Guard statistics show that 90% of the people who drown in a boating or water accidents would survive with a life jacket.
  • Cold kills! Hypothermia is a danger all year round on the Great Lakes. Click that link for tips on how to stay alive if you do end up in the water.
  • Rip Currents (sometimes called “undertow” or “rip tide”) are a big danger on Michigan beaches accounting for the majority of drownings. Michigan is 4th in rip current related fatalities behind Florida, California, and North Carolina – we have “ocean force” rip currents. Learn how to beat them in this video.
  • The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) offers comprehensive Great Lakes marine forecasts.
  • The MyBeachCast smarthphone app can predict waves and warn you of hazardous conditions.
  • Do you have more tips? Share them in the comments!

Check it out bigger and see more in Scott’s Lighthouses slideshow and also check out a winter view of the pier that Scott shot.

Catch a Michigan wave on Michigan in Pictures!

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