High waves & strong currents: National Weather Service issues beach hazard alert

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MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- Wednesday, July 23rd was a beautiful day for a stroll on the beach -- but not a great day to go swimming. The National Weather Service has issued a "Beach Hazards Statement" for dangerous swimming conditions for beaches from Port Washington to Kensoha due to high wave action, strong currents and dangerous swimming conditions.

Beaches with particularly dangerous conditions on Wednesday, July 23rd include:

  • McKinley Beach in Milwaukee
  • Grant Park Beach in Milwaukee
  • Shoop Park Beach in Racine
  • North Park Beach in Racine
  • Simmons Island Beach in Kenosha

The National Weather Service warns that high wave action can make swimming difficult and can tire even a strong swimmer quickly.

Structural currents form along lake piers and can sweep you out lakeward along the pier structure. Structural currents can sweep you out into deeper water along the pier structure.

Rip currents are powerful channels of water flowing quickly away from shore, which occur most often at low spots or breaks in sandbars.

Rip currents can sweep you into deeper water.

The National Weather Service urges beach-goers to not overestimate their swimming ability — and to take heed to this Beach Hazard Statement.

Malinda Mustered and her children were having fun on the beach on Wednesday afternoon. With as much fun as they were having -- there wasn't really a need to swim.

"It it windy, but my children seem not to be bothered by it. Lydia is six, and Caleb is four. The waves are good sized, and they are coming in pretty good!" Mustered said.

For beaches up and down Lake Michigan on Wednesday, the National Weather Service urged folks to stay on dry land -- and a short beach season was made even shorter.

"Hazardous wave action or current action, so be very cautious if swimming," Laura Schloesser with Milwaukee County Parks said.

It's just the latest wrinkle in an already weathered July.

"The cool weather and the long winter have wreaked havoc a little bit," Schloesser said.

The fog earlier this month kept some away from the beach -- and the cooler summer has also dissuaded folks from hitting the beach. Even on the nice days, beach-goers have to watch for dangerous algae and things like strong waves -- which we saw on Wednesday.

Mother Nature has Milwaukee County Parks officials adapting.

"Try and provide a diverse set of activities so that were not incredibly reliant on one thing because we offer a ton of opportunities," Schloesser said.

Even though folks were warned about getting wet on Wednesday -- it didn't mean they couldn't enjoy the beach.

"You know, with the sun out, people want to be outside and take advantage of all of the summer days that they possible can," Schloesser said.

The bottom line: Enjoy the beautiful weather, but just stay dry.

Schloesser said Bradford Beach had a great turnout on Wednesday. While people weren't swimming, they were still enjoying the weather and activities on the beach.

Looking to head out to the beach? You can check conditions before you go.

CLICK HERE to visit the Milwaukee County Beaches website. There, you can find weather forecast details, breakwater gauge, air quality conditions, the UV index forecast, information on bacterial monitoring -- and even a LIVE beach cam! You can see conditions for yourself before you head out.

CLICK HERE to visit the Wisconsin Beach Health website -- where you can check out conditions at every beach in the state. You can search by county -- and also take a look at real-time beach data.

CLICK HERE to visit the National Weather Service's "Rip Current Safety" website. There, you can view a 60-second video that shows you how to safely escape a rip current.