Researchers pinpoint cause of deadly Lake Michigan rip current

phys.org | 3/19/2019 | Staff
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The storm on Lake Michigan lasted only 15 minutes, but the conditions it put into motion took seven lives.

It was the Fourth of July in 2003, near Warren Dunes State Park along the Michigan coast. People left the water during the storm, but once it passed and the sun came out several hours later, they thought it was safe to swim. They went back into the water even though no lifeguards were present and red flags flew their warning colors over the beaches.

Case - Members - Group - Miles - Chicago

In one case, members of a religious group drove 80 miles from Chicago to the beach. Under clear skies, many hit the water immediately. Several men and young boys went out deep, although they stayed within the swimming area buoy markers. Then they felt the strong current carrying them away from shore.

News accounts at the time called the current a riptide and undertow, but scientists now know it was a rip current. Two boys, ages 12 and 15, were in distress and a group of older men swam out to help them. The men pulled the 12-year-old to shore but were unable to rescue the 15-year-old. Two of the rescuers were pulled away by the current.

Boy - Boy - Rescuers - Parts - Lake

The young boy survived, but the older boy and the two rescuers drowned. On other parts of that Lake Michigan shoreline during the same timespan, four other people drowned in separate incidents over the deadly holiday.

These incidents came under scrutiny recently by Wisconsin Sea Grant scientists who are studying a storm-induced wave called a meteotsunami (a contraction of the term meteorological tsunami, which means a wave caused by weather).

Results - Feb - Scientific - Reports - Article

Their results were published on Feb. 14 in Scientific Reports. The article, "Unexpected rip currents induced by a meteotsunami," details findings that the storm formed a moderate-height (less than 10 centimeters) meteotsunami, which is what...
(Excerpt) Read more at: phys.org
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