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As Beaches Open, Lake Michigan Water Temps At Near-Record Lows For May

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By John Dodge

CHICAGO (CBS) — As Chicago’s lakefront beaches officially open on Friday, the Lake Michigan water temperatures are among the coldest ever for this time of year.

Two weather observation buoys several monitor conditions several miles off shore.

The “south buoy” 43 nautical miles east-southeast of Milwaukee recorded the water temperature at 36 degrees on Thursday, which ranks amongst the coldest temperature recorded for this time of year, the National Weather Service reports.

In comparison, during the record warm spring of 2012, the south buoy was already reporting low 50 degree surface water temperatures by this date.

Closer to shore, the water temperature in Chicago is 58 degrees, which is still very uncomfortable and can be dangerous.

The extremely chilly water is a direct result of the brutally cold winter–when nearly all of Lake Michigan was on ice–and the cooler than normal spring.

Cold water saps energy much faster because a human body needs to work harder to stay warm.

Temperatures will range from the low 70s to mid-80s during the Memorial Day weekend, perfect temperatures for the beach.

However, swimmers need to be extremely careful if they are brave enough to get into the water.

Earlier this week, before there were lifeguards on duty, two men died at the 31st Street beach.

Fire department officials said the two got into trouble when the cold water made it difficult for them to swim back to shore.

The official Lake Michigan temperatures as of Friday morning:

LAKE MICHIGAN WATER TEMPERATURES…

CHICAGO SHORE: 58

CHICAGO CRIB: 54

MONTROSE BEACH: 56

CALUMET BEACH: 58

MICHIGAN CITY: 49

SOUTHERN BUOY: 37