There's a high risk for rip currents tonight along Michiana beaches tonight. According to the Coast Guard headquarters in Milwaukee, WI. this summer 35 people have drown just in Lake Michigan.
One of the Lake Michigan deaths was in St. Joseph. A Benton Harbor teen drown in May from rip currents. It's those rip currents that are most dangerous Wednesday night.
“(A rip current) can quickly wash you out into the lake and put you in great danger," says Steven Ruh a commander with the Coast Guard post in St. Joseph. Five to eight-foot waves on Lake Michigan mean stronger-than-usual rip currents and dangerous conditions for people in the water. Ruh says, “It exaggerates rip currents into a much stronger force.”
Not everyone is staying out of the lake. Eric Rydleski works for Third Coast Surf Shot in St. Joseph. Wednesday afternoon he is teaching three novice surfers the danger of rip currents on Second St. Beach, just south of Silver Beach. “It’s going to push you out to sea, so to say,” he says. “It’s almost like a small river that forms and pushes water back out.”
Rydleski knows it can be deadly, but he lives for this. “It's great for surfing, good waves for body boarding.” He says even if there are warnings, he knows the Lake Michigan's tendencies and believes he can get out if he needs to.
Earlier this year, Third Coast Surf Shop even taught a class to surfers on how to save others in distress. Rydleski says,“If there’s a drowning or someone’s struggling we can get out there fast and help them.” He says no matter what they’ll be out.
Ruh at the Coast Guard says it’s dangerous for everyone, no matter what their experience level is. “It doesn’t matter how strong a swimmer you are, it will probably better your chances of getting out of one but nobody can swim against one.”
He recommends watching the waves from shore.
If you are in a rip current don’t try and fight it back to shore. The best way to get out is swim parallel to the beach.