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Mich. DNR adds Double Red flag to Great Lakes warning system for swimmers

(Jon Zimney/95.3 MNC)

The Michigan DNR is making a change to the warning flag system for The Great Lakes.

This year, you’ll see a new double red flag added to the green, yellow and red gonfalons that tell swimmers and visitors to the lake shores what conditions they can expect from the lakes.

The new double red flag means swimming is closed, and would-be bathers are not allowed to enter the water. The DNR began using an updated flag system last year to boost awareness of changing swimming conditions on the lakes, amid a high number of drownings in recent years.

There have been 1,170 Great Lakes drownings since 2010, including 108 in 2022 and 15 so far in 2023, according to the Great Lakes Surf Rescue Project.

It is illegal to enter the water during a double red flag.

The updated system now includes:

  • Double red flag: Water access closed. Do not enter the water; dangerous conditions. (The double red flag restriction does not include those participating in board sports, such as surfing, kite surfing and skim boarding, with appropriate safety gear.)
  • Red flag: High hazard. High surf and/or strong currents. It’s recommended that you stay out of the water.
  • Yellow flag: Medium hazard. Moderate surf and/or currents. Watch for dangerous currents and high waves.
  • Green flag: Low hazard. Calm conditions. Enter the water, but exercise caution.

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