CHICAGO (CBS) — Strong winds on Monday have prompted a warning for beach visitors to stay out of Lake Michigan, due to dangerously large waves and strong currents.
The National Weather Service has issued a beach hazard statement for all beaches on Lake Michigan in Illinois through late Monday night.
Showers and thunderstorms also are expected to move through north central and northeast Illinois on Monday. Storm activity likely will grow more intense Monday afternoon, with some storms becoming strong or severe. Damaging wind will be the biggest concern.
Forecasters expect waves on Lake Michigan to reach 3 to 6 feet high, creating strong rip currents and structural currents in the lake.
“Life threatening waves and currents are expected at the beaches. People visiting the beaches should stay out of the water,” the weather service stated.
Rip currents and structural currents can be dangerous, even for experienced swimmers, according to the National Weather Service.
“Rip currents are powerful channels of water flowing quickly away from shore, which occur most often at low spots or breaks in sandbars. Rip currents can sweep you into deeper water,” the weather service added. “Structural currents form along piers where longshore currents and wave action flow into the structure. Structural currents can sweep you into deeper water along the pier structure.”
The National Weather Service said dangerous lake conditions likely will continue on Tuesday and Wednesday, with waves of up to 10 feet.
The Chicago Park District posts color-coded flags at every beach, notifying visitors of swim conditions. Green flags mean there are no restrictions, yellow flags mean swimmers should use caution in the water, and red flags mean swimming is prohibited. Swim conditions are also posted online for all Chicago beaches.
Lifeguards are on duty at Chicago beaches between 11 a.m. and 7 p.m. daily from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day.