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Caution always best when recreating in, near Lake Superior

Sep 06, 2022 11:02AM ● By Editor
From the Mining Journal Editorial Board • September 6, 2022

The beauty of Lake Superior is one of the things that draws people to the Upper Peninsula. Record numbers of visitors have traveled to the U.P. in recent years to enjoy the beauty of the big lake.

The shores of Lake Superior is also a draw for Northern Michigan University students.  But along with the pull of the lake, there is also a warning. 

Local officials say they want NMU students and visitors alike to enjoy the lake, but she must also be respected. Lake Superior water temperatures are cold as a rule. And cold water, as in 55 degrees or lower, can have severe consequences for the human body, according to the Marquette Police Department. 

In fact, cold water drains body heat four times faster than cold air. The change can impact the bodies autonomic functions breathing, heart rate and blood pressure. The simple act of gasping for air can increase a person’s risk for drowning, even among experienced swimmers.

The resulting shock and hypothermia can also change the way a person thinks, causing reaction time to slow when facing changing conditions. 

In fact, the Great Lakes Surf Rescue Project, a nonprofit corporation that tracks drowning statistics, said there have been nearly 1,100 have drowned in the Great Lakes since 2010, and there have been 47 drowning deaths in the Great Lakes this year – 20 of those were in Lake Michigan. Lake Superior has only been responsible for one drowning this year, but there have been increases in drowning incidents during the fall in recent months, especially here in Marquette. 

So what can you do if you want to safely swim, boat, or kayak in Lake Superior?  For one thing, MPD says never go out on the water alone and always check the city’s website to see if it’s safe to swim. 

The website,, monitors and flags South Beach, McCarty’s Cove, Middle Beach and Picnic Rocks when rip currents are present. 

The Picnic Rocks area is extremely popular, but it can also be one of the most dangerous areas for rip-tides. Because of this, the city recommends that you avoid swimming in this area, and move down the beach to McCarty’s Cove where a lifeguard is present. 

Another popular atraction is Blackrocks at Presque Isle. It is a well-known place for NMU students to jump from the rocks. This is undoubtedly a dangerous activity, especially considering there is no lifeguard patrolling the area.  Residents should also avoid the breakwall at Presque Isle Park during high winds, MPD said.

It’s easy to forget the danger that Lake Superior poses. The big lake can lull visitiors and even full-time residents into a sense of security.  The best course of action is to watch the weather and heed any of those official warnings. Only by working together can we keep everyone safe.

To see the original post and read related stories, follow this link to the Mining Journal website.
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