Lake Superior: Both Beautiful and Powerful

As a Northern Michigan University student you will have many opportunities to interact with magnificent Lake Superior.  We encourage you to enjoy all the natural wonder that Lake Superior has to offer, but also respect the lake’s power, too.   Please do not put yourself or your friends in dangerous water-related situations.  Enjoy Lake Superior, but be safe when you do.

Important websites:
Marquette Beach Flag Advisory System
National Weather Service's Lake Superior Rip Current Forecast    
Video: Understanding what to do in a Rip Current

Safety Tips for Lake Superior:

  1. Swim where there are lifeguards.  Never swim alone.  Before entering the water, make sure someone knows you are doing so.
  2. Check the City of Marquette website’s beach flag advisory system before swimming in Lake Superior. Flags are put up at South Beach, McCarty's Cove, Middle Beach and Picnic Rocks to indicate dangerous to highly dangerous rip current conditions. Also check the National Weather Service's Rip Current Forecast.
  3. Rock formations are a likely place to find dangerously strong rip currents. This includes the Picnic Rock area, which is located on Lake Shore Boulevard, near the Lakeview Arena and a short walk from campus. Do not swim in this area.  Move down the beach to McCarty’s Cove where lifeguards are located. 
  4. Know how to “break the grip of a rip.”  Learn more from the National Weather Service at http://ripcurrents.noaa.gov and see below.
  5. If you see someone caught in a rip current, going into the rip current area yourself is not the best solution.
  6. Strong winds on Lake Superior that create huge waves are amazing to see and photograph, but they, too, can be deadly.  Do not go into the water or out onto the breakwall at Presque Isle Park during high winds.

Rip Current Safety Tips

 From the National Weather Service (http://ripcurrents.noaa.gov)


If caught in a rip current:

  • Remain calm to conserve energy and think clearly.
  • Never fight against the current.
  • Think of it like a treadmill that cannot be turned off, which you need to step to the side of.
  • Swim out of the current in a direction following the shoreline. When out of the current, swim at an angle--away from the current--towards shore.
  • If you are unable to swim out of the rip current, float or calmly tread water. When out of the current, swim towards shore.
  • If you are still unable to reach shore, draw attention to yourself by waving your arm and yelling for help.

If you see someone in trouble, don't become a victim, too:

  • Get help from a lifeguard.
  • If a lifeguard is not available, have someone call 9-1-1.
  • Throw the rip current victim something that floats--a lifejacket, a cooler, an inflatable ball.
  • Yell instructions on how to escape.
  • Remember, many people drown while trying to save someone else from a rip current.