Northern winds causing strong waves, currents on Lake Michigan

Posted at 10:08 PM, Aug 20, 2018
and last updated 2018-08-21 05:18:10-04

The storm that will bring us periods of heavy rain and possible flooding tonight and Tuesday will bring a very different kind of danger to the west side of the state.  Persistent north winds coming down Lake Michigan on the back side of the storm will give push waves to huge heights during Tuesday and Wednesday.

The waves should reach maximum heights on Tuesday afternoon and evening and could approach 10 feet in a few cases. The average wave heights from late afternoon through the evening will be in the 5-8 foot range from Manistee and south, but the greatest impact, where waves could approach 10 feet, will be from St. Joe into Indiana.

Waves this big usually occur during winter storms and not during the swim season. The local National Weather Office in Grand Rapids urges people to "Stay dry when waves are high!" and  "Steer clear of the pier!"  because these waves are powerful enough to create strong undertows or rip currents pulling swimmers out to sea and can also sweep people off of piers.

Another contributing factor that will make this a very dangerous situation is that the water levels in Lake Michigan are well above normal levels.  This only adds to the danger of being on the lakes' popular piers.

Much calmer weather and waves will be ready for the last of the summer beachgoers toward the end of this week.