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GLIN==> BOATERS ADVISORY: Dangerous Breaking Waves at Great Lakes Harbor Entrances



> For Release:   IMMEDIATELY
> Thursday, June 29, 2000
> 
> For More Information:
> Philip Keillor, Coastal Engineering Advisory Services Specialist, (608)
> 263-5133, pkeillor@seagrant.wisc.edu
> Stephen Wittman, Assistant Director for Communications, (608) 263-5371
> 
> 
> Dangerous Breaking Waves Threaten Great Lakes Boaters
> 
> MADISON, Wis. (6/29/00) - Boaters should watch out this summer and fall
> for dangerous breaking wave conditions in the approaches to Great Lakes
> harbors and their entrances, according to University of Wisconsin Sea
> Grant Coastal Engineer Philip Keillor.
> 
> "Due to the lakes' low levels, breaking waves are more likely to occur in
> these areas because the water is shallower than usual. A small boat
> approaching a Green Bay harbor or marina entrance with a water depth of
> eight feet, for example, may encounter breaking waves five to seven feet
> high, which is enough to threaten a safe arrival," Keillor said.  "A boat
> approaching a harbor on Lake Michigan with a water depth of 12 feet in the
> approach and entrance channel may encounter breaking waves as high as
> seven to 10 feet."
> 
> Early this spring, a commercial fishing boat entering the harbor at Two
> Rivers, Wis., was swung sidewise and almost swept into the entrance
> structure when it ran into a zone of breakers that had formed near the
> harbor entrance. According to Chief Mark Barker of the U.S. Coast Guard
> Station in Two Rivers, the fishing boat was passing through an area that
> shoaled from 17 feet to nine feet and had breaking waves probably six to
> eight feet high. The Two Rivers harbor entrance has an authorized depth of
> 18 feet, according to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
> navigation charts. 
> 
> Only quick action by the fishing boat's pilot averted a disaster at Two
> Rivers. A less experienced recreational boat operator could be easily
> overwhelmed in such a situation, Keillor said, with the breaking waves
> rolling the boat over and its occupants being drowned immediately or
> thrown into the water to struggle for their lives in the surf.
> 
> Even if breaking waves are not evident when leaving a harbor, he said,
> boaters should be wary of a rise in wind speed, which can raise wave
> heights significantly in a short time and make the return trip through the
> harbor entrance hazardous.
> 
> "If caught out in such a situation, call ahead to the harbormaster, local
> U.S. Coast Guard station or other boaters in the harbor to learn if there
> are breaking waves in the harbor entrance," Keillor said.  "If dangerous
> breakers block your return to the harbor, wait for the wind to die down
> and the waves to decrease to safe heights, or go to the nearest harbor
> with a deeper approach and entrance or one where breaking wave conditions
> are not being observed."
> 
> The surest way boaters can avoid such dangers, he said, is to be prudent:
> "Don't ever go out on the Great Lakes when the water is very rough."
> # # # #
> 
> Conceived in 1966, Sea Grant is a national network of 29 university-based
> programs of research, outreach, and education dedicated to the protection
> and sustainable use of the United States' coastal, ocean, and Great Lakes
> resources.  The National Sea Grant Network is a partnership of
> participating coastal states, private industry, and the National Sea Grant
> College Program, National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration, U.S.
> Department of Commerce.
> 
> www.seagrant.wisc.edu
> 
> **************************************************
> Posted by Stephen Wittman
> Assistant Director for Communications
> University of Wisconsin Sea Grant Institute
> **************************************************
> 
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