Academic and Governmental Partnership Leads to Safer Lake Michigan Surf

The Takeaway: Real-time forecasting system keeps swimmers safer by detecting hazardous wave conditions. READ MORE

Rip currents—strong channels of water that flow out from the shore—claim more lives annually than tornadoes, hurricanes, lightning, and floods combined. Lake Michigan swimmers will be much safer from the risk of rip currents and other dangerous waves thanks to a new real-time effort that matches academic know-how with coastal issue expertise and resources.

A University of Wisconsin-Madison professor partnered with the Wisconsin Coastal Management program and Wisconsin Sea Grant to begin testing and implementing the pilot Integrated Nowcast/Forecast Operation System (INFOS) at two beaches in Wisconsin. Through this project, a similar system is being piloted along Lake Superior, in Duluth, Minnesota. The equipment will identify and more accurately pinpoint the movement and behavior of hazardous wave conditions.

“It’s gratifying to partner on this effort that will prevent further loss of life from these swimming hazards. This project is a successful example of a collaborative effort to address a coastal community need,” said Todd Breiby of the Wisconsin Coastal Management Program. (2016)

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Partners: University of Wisconsin-Madison, Wisconsin Coastal Management Program, Wisconsin Sea Grant, Milwaukee County Parks Department, Minnesota Sea Grant