Chicago beaches closed? No swimming at some beaches due to high waves, dangerous conditions

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Some Chicago beaches were closed to swimming Wednesday due to high waves and dangerous conditions, meaning swimmers need to stay out of the water even on a beautiful summer day.

The red flags were up at Montrose Beach, a signal to beachgoers to stay out of the water because of dangerous conditions. Waves could be as high as five feet.

"I understand they are trying to keep kids safe," said beachgoer Heather Ruhmke.

"We thought we may be able to have a chance to dip in our feet and maybe splash on our faces," said beachgoer Annie Carbonara.

Evan Dye came to the beach with her coworkers hoping to enjoy their day off in Lake Michigan.

"I am actually really sad," she said. "I didn't know, but that's OK. We will still make the best of it."

Dangerous waves and strong rip currents make for unsafe swimming conditions.

"People think this is a small lake. This is a dangerous inland ocean and you have to respect its power," said Chief Tim Walsh, Chicago Fire Department Special Operations.

So far in July the Chicago Fire Department has conducted 74 water rescues, up from 51 in July 2018. Chicago fire officials believe the higher water levels this year are behind the increase.

"We are out here to protect people, but if we can help them from getting into harm's way with just a simple warning rather than put assets in the lake, that's much better for everyone," Walsh said.

And there are ways to have a good time at the beach without getting in the water.

"I feel like you can find the fun anywhere, especially the beach," said Imara Westfallen. "There is so many endless possibilities of fun on the beach."

Chicago fire officials said most of their water rescue calls come at night when there is not a lifeguard on duty and on the weekends.
Copyright © 2019 WLS-TV. All Rights Reserved.