Weather service warns of high waves at Chicago beaches

CHICAGO (WLS) -- High waves and life-threatening currents prompted the National Weather Service to warn of dangerous swimming conditions Monday and Tuesday at Chicago beaches.

Wave heights of between 5 and 8 feet are forecast through Tuesday, according to the weather service. High waves also bring strong currents.

Beaches in Lake County and Porter and Lake counties in Indiana are also affected.

It was training day for lifeguards at Whihala Beach in Whiting, Ind., where the strong winds and choppy waters actually created the ideal conditions for water safety education.

Wind caused waves of five to eight feet. Red flags dotted the shore, meaning the beach is closed.

"We expect the beach to be closed today and tomorrow with a possibility of a closure on Wednesday or maybe yellow flags on Wednesday, which means people are allowed into the water up to a certain depth," said Nick Kalwinski, Whihala Beach Supervisor.

In addition to getting in the water, the lifeguards-in-training learned about the risk of drowning. David Benjamin with the Great Lakes Rescue Project, said drowning is one of the leading causes of death in the U.S.

Already in 2017 there have been 20 drownings in the Great Lakes, and 10 of those were in Lake Michigan.

"On average, half of all Great Lakes drownings happen in Lake Michigan, and then half of Lake Michigan drownings happen in the south end of Lake Michigan," Benjamin said.

Keeping in mind three simple steps if you find yourself in dangerous water can be a life saver. Just remember: Flip, float and follow.

"You flip on your back and you float - float to keep your head above water, float to conserve your energy, and float to calm yourself down from the fear and panic of drowning - and then follow the safest path out of the water.

According to Benjamin, 66 percent of all drowning victims are good swimmers.

The water temperature of Lake Michigan was 62 degrees Monday.

The Sun-Times Media Wire contributed to this report.
Copyright © 2022 WLS-TV. All Rights Reserved.