Forecasting Dangerous Currents Makes Beaches Safer

A disproportionate number of incidents related to dangers currents have occurred in Lake Michigan. The Michigan Coastal Zone Management Program undertook a comprehensive program designed to improve current forecasting and messaging.

A data collection team used satellite imagery and information collected by first responders to identify areas with recurring dangerous currents, particularly those that coincide with high beach use. Education efforts included workshops targeting park staff members, first responders, and community leaders. Improvements in signage, rescue equipment, the establishment of safety buffer zones, and updated beach safety protocols were implemented. Dangerous current forecasts are now a standard part of some television stations’ weather reports, and forecasting apps have been developed for smartphones. (2016)

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Partners: Great Lakes Research Center at Michigan Technological University, Michigan Coastal Zone Management Program, Michigan Department of Natural Resources, NOAA Office for Coastal Management