Swimmers in southeast Wisconsin should stay out of Lake Michigan on Thursday and Friday because of dangerous conditions in the forecast, the National Weather Service said.
"Life-threatening" waves of 3 to 6 feet, strong winds and dangerous currents are expected, the weather service said in a statement.
Ozaukee, Milwaukee, Racine and Kenosha counties have a high swim risk from Thursday afternoon through Friday evening.
"Stay out of the water and away from dangerous areas like piers and breakwalls," the weather service statement reads. "Strong structural and longshore currents are expected. Rip currents are possible."
Beachgoers should obey posted signs and closures, the weather service said.
According to the statement, the beaches most susceptible to dangerous swimming conditions are:
- North Beach in Port Washington
- Harrington Beach State Park in Belgium
- McKinley Beach in Milwaukee
- Grant Park Beach in Milwaukee
- North Beach in Racine
- Wind Point Lighthouse Beach in Racine
- Simmons Island Beach in Kenosha
The high swim risk extends into lakefront counties in Illinois, Indiana and southern Michigan. In the Chicago area, waves are forecast to be 5 to 8 feet high.
Fourteen people have drowned so far this year in Lake Michigan, the most among the Great Lakes, according to the Great Lakes Surf Rescue Project.
On June 19, a 9-year-old girl was pulled from the water at Zoo Beach in Racine and later died.
Milwaukee County officials closed McKinley Beach this year after three people drowned there last summer, citing flaws in its design that make swimming unsafe.
Because of a severe staffing shortage, no Milwaukee County-run beaches have lifeguards this year, including the popular Bradford Beach.