CHICAGO — As summer comes to a close, Labor Day weekend marks one of the busiest times of the year for Lake Michigan.
It also marks one of the most dangerous times of the year on the Great Lakes, especially in Chicago.
“We’ve had 560 search and rescue cases for Lake Michigan and I can tell you unequivocally, the largest concentration of search and rescue cases are here in Chicago,” said Clarence Piganeau, Coast Guard Chief of Response for Central Lake Michigan.
Piganeau also said — on average — almost half of all Great Lakes drownings happen in Lake Michigan, which is due in part to so many tourists who visit the area, but also the unique positioning of the lake.
“Lake Michigan is from North to South about 307 miles long, it’s about 118 miles at its widest point,” Piganeau said. “Whenever there’s wind traveling over the Great Lakes, it creates several types of dangerous currents you might encounter on the water.”
Experts recommends if someone appears to be drowning, use a flotation device and do not jump in the water to help.
According to the Great Lakes Surf Rescue Project, there have been at least 38 drownings in Lake Michigan so far this year.