Lake can be unpredictable

To the Journal editor:

There seems to be a misconception that dangerous currents in Lake Superior occur only when it’s windy and waves are high. Then warning flags go up, beaches close, and notifications of the dangerous currents are sent out.

As a result, I feel it downplays the dangers of strong currents when the Lake is relatively calm. As a fisherman with 45 years of fishing on Lake Superior, I have experienced powerful currents of well over 1 mile per hour, even after a couple days of dead-flat calm.

Ask other fishermen and you’ll likely get a similar response. Talk to some ole-timers who swam between second and third Picnic Rocks on calm days years ago and what they experienced. Currents are caused by things besides wind.

For example, rotation of the earth, changes in barometric pressure, influence from the moon, and heating from the sun. I’ve seen seiches raise and lower boats over one foot in the harbor in a very short time. I’ve observed churning water at the end of the breakwater and mouth of the marina on calm days.

Although our lake is not big like an ocean with their significant tides, these same conditions do influence the dangerous currents in the big pond, regardless of wind. I feel future warnings to swimmers should include warnings that currents may be powerful and dangerous even when it’s not windy.


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