Swimmers warned of rip currents in Lake Michigan

Swimmers warned of rip currents in Lake Michigan

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Swimmers hoping to take a dip in Lake Michigan Thursday are being advised to watch out for rip currents and big waves.

The National Weather Service has issued a beach hazard alert until Thursday evening at 9pm. The Chicago Park District has closed down a handful of its beaches because of the rough surf.

Park District officials say as of 2:30 this afternoon, lifeguards hadn’t spotted any evidence of rip currents, but were closely monitoring the waters.

Meteorologist Mark Ratzer says north and northeasterly winds of up to 20 miles per hour on the lake are creating waves around three to five feet tall. That can cause some problems for swimmers.

“When the waves kinda move to shore,” Ratzer says, “And then it sloshes back toward the open water — especially in the south end of the lake, along the Indiana shore where you have more of a sandy bottom and you get sand bars — you can get kinda little channels that open up where the water moves back out to open water more quickly and people get caught in those.”

Ratzer says swimmers who get caught should swim parallel to the shore to get out of the current.

Lauren Chooljian is WBEZ’s Morning Producer/Reporter. Follow her @laurenchooljian.