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National Weather Service issues beach hazard warning for Muskegon Co.

NWS says waves could reach up to 5-ft and currents are expected. Warning to last until 11 p.m. on Monday night.
Posted at 6:49 PM, Jul 05, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-06 08:27:19-04

MUSKEGON, Mich. — Debra Matz and her grandchildren love Pere Marquette beach. They live nearby and go all the time. However, whenever they go the girls know the rules, she said.

“We use caution,” Matz said. “All the kids have life jackets and they’re only allowed to go out you know belly-button deep. So they know the rules.”

Monday, according to the National Weather Service Muskegon County=, along with Oceana, Mason and Ottawa counties are all under a beach hazard warning. The warning stated that the swim risk was high, the waves were 3-5 feet and that currents were expected.

“Definitely pay attention to wind,” said Rachel McCoy, who’s from the area. It’s one of the first thing she checks when heading to the beach. “And, definitely pay attention to the waves to see if they’re really big, if there is a rip tide. I definitely like to go out into the water a little bit to test the waters to see if there’s any pull.”

Last Friday, police said a 29-year-old man drowned at Lake Muskegon during a boat ride. He fell into the water and did not resurface.

“This is terrible for something like that to happen especially during the holiday weekend,” McCoy said. “My thoughts and prayers are with [the family].”

Philip Johnson who’s lived near the beach all his life said it’s important to pay attention to conditions, especially when the warning is red.

Most beaches along Lake Michigan have flags that indicate what the water conditions are like for the day: red for hazardous, yellow for ‘proceed with caution’, and green for ‘good to go.’ Pere Marquette once had flags but now they use a stop light that shows lake conditions.

“Don’t go in the water, unless you’re kite surfer or a surfer,” said Johnson, who was once a surfer himself. “All I can say is you know we’re all responsible for our own safety. We can’t buy that.”

The NWS stated the warning will last until 11 p.m. Monday. After that, the swim risk will be low-to-moderate for the rest of the week, which means Matz and her grandkids just may return.

She said they’re just happy to be able to enjoy the beach mask-free.

“Oh my gosh that’s what we’ve been living for,” Matz laughed. “We’re so glad to be without masks. So, yeah it’s great.”

SEE MORE: Great Lakes Surf Rescue Project video discusses dangerous currents, drowning survival tips