Lake Superior Rip Current Awareness

By KBJR News 1

June 6, 2011 Updated Jun 6, 2011 at 10:20 PM CDT

DULUTH, MN (Northland's NewsCenter) - Summer like weather is drawing people back to Northland Beaches, but if you plan to enjoy Lake Superior, beware.
The big lake's currents are not always what they seem.

With the start of sweet summer days, Duluth's beaches are getting more footprints, but swimmers should know their beach before taking a dip.

"A lot of the folks from around this area have heard of rip currents. Most people that aren't from around here have never heard of them and don't know anything about them," said Minnesota Sea Grant's educator Jesse Schomberg.

Lake Superior's beaches have many small channels caused by strong rip currents. The currents pull water and swimmers out to deeper depths and have caused deaths.

"In 2003 in particular, we had a death. We had a number of rescues, over a dozen, I think, that summer," said Schomberg.

Knowing the flag warnings can help avoid danger.

"If you see a red flag flying along the road out to the beach, you know that it's a high-risk day...Yellow flag days means there's a moderate chance. Now, we have had rip currents on moderate days... Most of our days on the beach are green flag days, which is great. Those are the safest days," said Schomberg.

While most rip currents happen when there are large waves, experts say that sometime the look of the water can be deceiving.

"If you're looking at the beach the calmest looking spot might be the spot, where the rip current is," said Schomberg.

It's good to know how to get out safe.

"First thing, don't panic. Second thing, try to swim sideways. As I said the current moves away from shore and it's very fast. Your not going to be able to beat it," said Schomberg.

He says Duluth's beaches have rip currents only a handful of days each year.

Posted to Web by Jena Pike