Fri, 16 Aug 2013 22:46:51 GMT — Fifteen people have drowned around Picnic Rocks in Marquette since 1961. Friday, the National Weather Service held a Water Safety and Recreation Expo to warn beach-goers of the dangers of the Great Lakes. Safety first... The National Weather Service says that there are times when the Great Lakes are not safe and it's better to stay onshore. The expo is a collaborative effort between the NWS, the local Sea Grant, the YMCA, and the City of Marquette. The expo gave lessons on water safety and educated the public on dangerous currents. "Just having the knowledge of knowing what conditions to avoid, what places to avoid while you're swimming is going to be great information to have to keep you safe," said Megan Dodson, NWS Meteorologist. The NWS says Picnic Rocks is an important place to avoid because of its strong channel currents. Swimmers can be cited for going in this 24/7 no-swim zone. Lifeguards say to stay in the guarded areas within the buoys. "There's no guarantee that we'll get to you fast enough just because you're outside of our swim zone. That's why we have buoys in place, to keep people in an area where we can get to them with 100 percent certainty of getting to them on time," said Lifeguard Heather Flanigan. The NWS also warns of rip currents and high waves. Today, the water is calm, but along Marquette beaches, a breezy north wind can create hazardous swimming conditions. They recommend staying informed by reading their daily Swim Risk Forecasts. "Know before you go. Check the forecast before you leave for the beach in the morning... You're going to be able to see if there's a high, low, or moderate risk for dangerous currents and high waves," Dodson said. Being informed about lake conditions can make sure your beach visit doesn't keep you stuck in the sand. You can learn more about current conditions on the NWS's Great Lakes Hazards Page.
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