The Chicago shoreline and other areas around Lake Michigan will be a very dangerous place to be on Wednesday and Thursday, forecasters warn. The National Weather Service says "large, battering waves" up to 16 feet high could hit the area, driven by northerly winds of up to 45mph, CNN reports. Waves up to 18 feet high are expected elsewhere along the shoreline. The NWS says flooding is expected, especially along the Indiana shore. The service says the waves, combined with above-average lake levels, will cause beach erosion and "extremely dangerous conditions at the lakefront."
"These types of waves ... happen a handful of times each year," meteorologist Lee Carlaw tells the Chicago Tribune. "In fact, this is the time of year for it as we go into the autumn." The NWS forecasts occasional waves of up to 21 feet, which would rival the record of 23 feet recorded 40 miles off Kenosha, Wisconsin, in 2011. The lake level at the southern end of Lake Michigan is expected to be 1 or 2 feet higher than normal, per ABC7.
Authorities say doing anything near the water will be hazardous—and actually getting in the water could be a fatal mistake. "Swimming conditions will be life-threatening, especially for inexperienced swimmers," officials in Chicago warned Tuesday. "Remain out of the water to avoid dangerous swimming conditions and do not venture out onto piers, jetties, breakwalls, or other shoreline structures." (Read more Lake Michigan stories.)