OFFSHORE WINDS ON THE GREAT LAKES
Offshore winds can be deceptive and dangerous on the Great Lakes. An offshore wind is a wind blowing from the land toward the water.
Offshore winds can be very deceptive on the Great Lakes because the water may appear flat and calm at the shoreline, but the farther you get from shore, the offshore wind strength increases dramatically.
The winds can be especially dangerous for people on rafts, kayaks, standup paddleboards (SUPs), or other floatation devices because the floatation device may get caught in the wind, act like a sail, and be taken far offshore.
Offshore winds can also be dangerous if the person is blown out to open water and the person falls off the floatation device and becomes separated. In strong offshore winds, a person can’t swim fast enough to catch the device caught in the wind.
One of the most heart-wrenching offshore winds incidents occurred June 2010 when 9 year-old Sofia Khan went missing. She was in a kayak in Holland, WI and an offshore wind carried her out to open water. The girl's father tried to swim out to the kayak, but strong winds pushed it farther and faster than he could swim. He was unable to catch up to it and had to swim back to shore. When the canoe was retrieved, it was empty. To this date, her body has not been recovered.
Here’s some recent offshore wind incidents:
July 4, 2012 – A mother, father and their 4-year-old son drifted a quarter-mile offshore. Parents swam back to shore before rescuers arrived
The Great Lakes Surf Rescue Project, Inc. (GLSRP) is about saving lives. It is a nonprofit corporation that is a Chapter of the National Drowning Prevention Alliance (NDPA) that tracks drowning statistics, teaches “Water Safety Surf Rescue” classes, and leads the “Third Coast Ocean Force” rip current awareness campaign on the Great Lakes.
It has been selected to present at the 2nd International Rip Current Symposium Nov. 1st, 2012 in Sydney, Australia; the 2012 winner of the “Outstanding Service to the Great Lakes Community” award presented by the Dairyland Surf Classic; the 2011 “Lifesaver of the Year” award winner; and a presenter at the NDPA’s 11th Annual Symposium in San Diego, March 9, 2012.