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Coast Guard warning Lake Michigan swimmers about rip currents

(courtesy of National Weather Service, Wilmington, NC)
Rip current mechanism: breakers cross sand bars off the shore, the water travels back to sea through the gap in the sand bars, creating a fast "rip"

Search efforts continue for two swimmers who were caught up Tuesday in rip currents off the coast of Saugatuck.     Lake Michigan’s eastern shore has seen strong rip currents this week. 

U.S. Coast Guard petty officer Lauren Jorgenson  says people swimming in the Great Lakes should be aware of the danger of currents that can pull swimmers away from the beach.  

“They’ll go to the beach and look out…and it might look like there are some waves…but they might not realize that there are currents underwater that can push them up against piers, break walls or other dangerous structures.”

August is a critical month for tourism communities along Michigan’s west coast.  Rick Hert is the executive director of the West Michigan Tourism Association.  Hert says he’s not concerned that the rip current problem will scare away tourists. 

“I think the lure of water is one thing for them. But…it’s the beach…and the experience overall that attracts visitors to our beaches in Michigan."

The U.S. Coast Guard is also warning boaters about windy conditions on Lake Michigan today.

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