Skip to main content

2016 spike in Great Lakes drownings linked to warm weather

May 09, 2017 07:20PM ● Published by Editor

Water safety advocates around the Great Lakes are hoping the upcoming summer won't follow a trend set last year. 2016 was a particularly deadly year on Great Lakes, said Jamie Racklyeft, the executive director of the Michigan-based Great Lakes Water Safety Consortium. "We saw a definite spike," said Racklyeft, citing data collected by The Great Lakes Surf Rescue Project, which tracks drownings based on media reports from both Canada and the U.S. "A 78 per cent spike in drownings on the Great Lakes from 2015 to 2016."

 The jump from 55 recorded drownings on the Great Lakes in 2015, to 98 in 2016 is being attributed to warm weather, and high water levels, he said. Great Lakes drownings The U.S.-based Great Lakes Surf Rescue Project, which has been collecting data on Great Lakes drownings since 2010, noted spikes in 2016 and 2012. (Great Lakes Surf Rescue Project) "So the air temperature was warmer, which drew more people to the beaches. The water was warmer, which drew more people from the beaches and into the water. And water levels were higher, so the wave energy was closer to shore where the people were."

 Saved 'at the last second'
 Racklyeft knows all too well how dangerous the Great Lakes can be. It was a close call in 2012 that inspired him to start the Great Lakes Water Safety Consortium. He was swimming in Lake Michigan on a wavy day, when he felt himself overpowered by a current pulling him away from shore. He nearly drowned, he said. "Fortunately two brave strangers in a kayak saved me at the last second." Strong currents pose dangers The majority of Great Lakes rescues and fatalities occur when waves are high, said Megan Dodson, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Northern Indiana, and many are also linked to strong currents. Flip, Float and Follow Water safety experts advise people to "flip, float and follow," when caught in a current. Flip onto your back and float, and do not try to fight against the current. Since the currents tend to be narrow, you should also swim parallel to the shore to try to escape its grip, said Jamie Racklyeft. But currents on the Great Lakes are still not well understood, she said, adding that when researchers first started taking note of them, it was an uphill battle to convince some people that powerful rip currents could even occur on the lakes.

 "That was actually a big thing we had to fight against," she said. 'They think of it as an ocean thing' "Most people don't know about [rip currents] on the Great Lakes," said Racklyeft, "they think of it as an ocean thing." Over the past few years, there's been a heightened effort to educate people about the danger of currents — especially near structures such as piers and breakwalls — and to teach people what to do if they are in trouble, said Dodson. Dodson, who tracks Great Lakes drownings and rescues that are specifically related to currents, said she also noted an upswing in incidents in 2016 due to warm weather that drew people to the water. For Racklyeft, the spike in drownings last year indicates a need for even more education, on both sides of the border. "All of these [deaths] are preventable, that's the frustrating thing," he said.
News
  • Terra Bella Floral hours

    02/22/2018
    12:00AM

    Monday and Tuesday Noon to 5 Wednesday through Friday 10 to 4 Saturday 10 to 2 Sunday Closed


  • Join us at Harbor House Grille, featuring Chef prepared handcrafted meals. Today's specials inclu...


  • The 100DayProject

    02/22/2018
    12:00AM — 12:00AM

    January 21 - April 30, 2018 The 100DayProject is an effort to motivate participants to commit ...


  • MOVE IT!

    02/22/2018
    12:00AM

    MOVE IT is about moving towards good health in lots of ways, including being physically active. ...


  • Free tax help for low to moderate income folks in Cook County! Bring your tax information with ...


  • Lunch at the Senior Center

    02/22/2018
    12:00PM — 12:30PM

    Open Face Roast Beef/Mash Potato/Beets/Fruit/Milk


  • Snowmobilers! Ride Lutsen Trails With Us

    02/22/2018
    06:00PM — 10:00PM

    Join us to ride the trails with us. We meet at the snowmobile parking lot at 466 Caribou Trail [...


  • Alcoholics Anonymous

    02/22/2018
    06:30PM

    Alcoholics Anonymous is a fellowship of men and women who share their experience, strength and ho...


  • Film Night at North House

    02/22/2018
    07:00PM — 09:00PM

    Winter Series returns every Thursday in February at North House with film nights. We’ll revisit f...


  • Modern Western Square Dance

    02/22/2018
    07:30PM — 09:00PM

    Where: 4H log building at Cook County Community Building When: Thursday nights from 7:30 to 9:00...


  • The 100DayProject

    02/23/2018
    12:00AM — 12:00AM

    January 21 - April 30, 2018 The 100DayProject is an effort to motivate participants to commit ...


  • Terra Bella Floral hours

    02/23/2018
    12:00AM

    Monday and Tuesday Noon to 5 Wednesday through Friday 10 to 4 Saturday 10 to 2 Sunday Closed


  • Come join us at Harbor House Grille, featuring chef prepared, handcrafted food. Today's specials ...


  • MOVE IT!

    02/23/2018
    12:00AM

    MOVE IT is about moving towards good health in lots of ways, including being physically active. ...


  • Lunch at the Senior Center

    02/23/2018
    12:00PM — 12:30PM

    Chicken Chowmein/Rice/Mixed Vegetable/Dessert/Milk


  • Taste of Winter Potluck and Seed Discussion

    02/23/2018
    05:30PM — 07:30PM

    There will be a ‘Taste of Winter’ Potluck and seed discussion on Friday, February 23 at 5:30 p.m....


  • Friday Night Reels

    02/23/2018
    06:00PM — 08:00PM

    Friday nights from January 5 to March 9, the library is transformed into a Free-Admission movie t...


  • Annual Beer Lover's Dinner

    02/23/2018
    06:30PM — 09:30PM

    We are now taking reservations for our annual Beer Lover’s Dinner, which will take place on Frida...


  • The 100DayProject

    02/25/2018
    12:00AM — 12:00AM

    January 21 - April 30, 2018 The 100DayProject is an effort to motivate participants to commit ...


  • Terra Bella Floral hours

    02/25/2018
    12:00AM

    Monday and Tuesday Noon to 5 Wednesday through Friday 10 to 4 Saturday 10 to 2 Sunday Closed


  • MOVE IT!

    02/25/2018
    12:00AM

    MOVE IT is about moving towards good health in lots of ways, including being physically active. ...


  • The CC Community Center outdoor ice rinks and warming house will be staffed and open for ice skat...


  • Alcoholics Anonymous

    02/25/2018
    06:30PM — 07:30PM

    Alcoholics Anonymous is a fellowship of men and women who share their experience, strength and ho...


  • Terra Bella Floral hours

    02/26/2018
    12:00AM

    Monday and Tuesday Noon to 5 Wednesday through Friday 10 to 4 Saturday 10 to 2 Sunday Closed


  • The 100DayProject

    02/26/2018
    12:00AM — 12:00AM

    January 21 - April 30, 2018 The 100DayProject is an effort to motivate participants to commit ...


  • Come join us at Harbor House Grille, featuring chef prepared, handcrafted food. Today's specials ...


  • MOVE IT!

    02/26/2018
    12:00AM

    MOVE IT is about moving towards good health in lots of ways, including being physically active. ...


  • Band Instrument Drive

    02/26/2018
    08:00AM

    The Cook County School band is looking to expand our program and include all 5th graders. Current...


  • 1/2 Price Burgers!

    02/26/2018
    11:00AM — 09:00PM

    1/2 Price Burgers at Moguls Grille and Tap Room


  • Lunch at the Senior Center

    02/26/2018
    12:00PM — 12:30PM

    Spaghetti & Meatballs/Salad/Fruit/Milk


  • Overeaters Anonymous

    02/26/2018
    04:15PM — 05:15PM

    Overeaters Anonymous is a fellowship of individuals who, through shared experience, strength and...


  • Co-Dependents Anonymous

    02/26/2018
    05:30PM

    Co-Dependents Anonymous is a Fellowship of men and women whose common purpose is to develop healt...


  • Beginning Swedish Language- 6 Sessions Instructor: Rose Arrowsmith DeCoux Mondays January 22nd-...


  • Snowmobilers! Ride Lutsen Trails With Us

    02/26/2018
    06:00PM — 10:00PM

    Join us to ride the trails with us. We meet at the snowmobile parking lot at 466 Caribou Trail [...


Lake Superior Ice Coverage Map. Click on map to enlarge. [GLERL Ice Concentration for Lake Superior]

Weather Alerts Provided by Willy Weather