Lake Superior in all it’s beauty and serenity draws thousands of tourists every year, to it’s beaches, acloves, light houses, and National Parks that lie on it’s vast shores.
Yet, it’s beauty can turn deadly without warning as us residents of her shores can attest too. Unfortunately, tourists aren’t as aware of Lake Superiors deadly secret. On an extremely warm day in the Upper Peninsula the beaches and waters of Lake Superior are filled with swimmers. This summer even more than ever are braving the usually frigid waters as the temperatures of the lake reach all time highs.
Marquette County alone has 80 miles of Lake Superior shoreline and has also had the most drownings this summer. The latest drowning victim was a Northern Michigan University student from downstate Michigan on August 27Th. All of this summers drownings including the two in Alger County were not from the area, all of these drownings were due to strong rip currents.
While I commend the Marquette City Commission for dealing with issue in a timely matter after the two drownings at Presque Isle on August 5Th, by instituting a colored flag system at four different spots. The color coded flags were erected on August 21, 2010. I personally went to check it out and take some photos on Aug. 22ND. At picnic rocks two red flags were flying on the pole, which meant according to the sign on the pole that the water in that area was closed to public. There is also a huge white sign, warning of the dangers of the water in that area. Yet, much to my dismay people had chosen to ignore or not bother to even see these signs or flags as there were people out in the water.
Northern Michigan University stated that it had stressed the dangers of the break walls during high waves and the picnic rocks area during it’s orientation. Yet, this was not enough to prevent the drowning of one of it’s students on the 27Th. After the drowning NMU sent out e-mails to all staff, students, and faculty reiterating the dangers of Lake Superior.
After the latest drowning the Marquette City Commission created a safety task force. Made up of 7 local volunteers. They also, plan to add extra beach warning signs at the Picnic Rocks area. The Picnic Rocks area is particularly dangerous due to it’s long shore currents that form between the rocks and shore, making it extremely dangerous when winds shift unexpectedly.
Although, the city of Marquette has instituted these new things if people decide to ignore the signs and refuse to heed the warning of safety task force members it will unfortunately lead to more drownings.
According to the NWS there have been 25 Drownings in the Great Lakes this year due to rip currents. The average is eight.
The following are a few ideas that could help to prevent drownings
1.In this day and age of technology just about everyone has access to some form of internet while traveling. I urge you to look up the NWS website before entering a Great Lake. Type in the city or area code that you are closest too and check the weather alerts for rip currents in the area.
2.The FCC website for the Emergency Alert System states that local and state authorities can use the system for important emergency information targeted to specific areas. So I ask this? Why are local radio and television stations not running alerts of the possibility of rip currents?
3.All colleges bordering a Great Lake could send a mass e-mail alert to all students, faculty, and staff after checking the NWS website and finding out that the winds are right for rip currents in they’re area.