A total of 69 people had lost their lives, prior to Wednesday, in all of the Great Lakes this year.
Most of the people who drowned were not wearing life jackets, officials reported.
Police said that two
Police reported five-foot waves Wednesday night.
National Weather Service Meteorologist
The waves hit shore, bounce off the pier structure and then channel back into
"People battle waves and get tired, and then the current carries them out," Maples said.
Away from the piers, swimmers have to contend with rip currents or longshore currents at different times, he said.
Two lives have been lost in the
Grand Haven Public Safety Director
Several near drowning victims were rescued, including two teen girls in 2015.
Since 2008, police responded to 150 water rescue calls at the pier and beach. About 25 percent of those calls were for lost children who were thought to be in the water, but were later located.
Maples said the distance the wind travels over the water is one part of the equation. That's called a seche.
If the wind is out of the north, the south half of the lake will have the highest waves.
The higher the wind speed and the longer distance the wind travels, the more power it has to push and build the waves.
The wave period is another factor. This is the time between waves.
In the ocean you might have 5-7 seconds between each wave, the meteorologist said.
"It wears people out a lot more quickly," he said.
Then you add a lot more people because of the holiday weekend and nice weather, Maples said.
Holiday weekend forecast
Although the green flag turned into a red flag Wednesday afternoon, conditions calmed down overnight and should stay calm through the weekend, Maples said.
"The good weather is surrounding the entire holiday weekend," he said. "It will be sunny all weekend with some clouds later on Monday."
Temperatures should be in the mid to upper 70s on Friday and Saturday, inching closer to 80 on Sunday and possibly the low 80s on Monday.
Winds will be about 5-10 mph most of the weekend and wave heights should remain under a foot until Monday.
Maples said surface water temperatures have been running about 5 degrees above normal in the area.
"And to think a couple of years ago we were getting records for ice cover," he said.
Surface water temperatures should remain in the upper 60s to low 70s in most areas for the next few days.
The last big weekend
"This is kind of our last big weekend of the summer. We usually see a large push in the volume of boats, said Coast Guard Station Grand Haven Senior Chief
It won't mean an increase in staff, but it will probably mean an increase of interaction with the boaters, he said.
"We're always on the water -- patrolling every day -- training every day," he said. "We'll be doing more outreach and spreading our standard safety message."
Olson said the
"Everybody is going to be able to find a life jacket that is comfortable," he said.
Olson compared the life jackets to wearing seat belts.
"Years ago nobody wanted to wear them, but now it is the norm," he said. "You get used to it."
Seat belts have saved thousands of lives, Olson said.
"The bottom line -- life jackets save lives too. It's an easy way to pay the life insurance," he said.
Great Lakes drownings
Here are Great Lakes drowning statistics since 2010, provided by the
2016 -- 69
2015 -- 55
2014 -- 54
2013 -- 67
2012 -- 101
2011 -- 87
2010 -- 74
(c)2016 the Grand Haven Tribune (Grand Haven, Mich.)
Visit the Grand Haven Tribune (Grand Haven, Mich.) at www.grandhaventribune.com
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.