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5 Things Savvy Superior Beachgoers Know


Know before you go!

It's beach season! Minnesota Sea Grant wants you to have a happy and safe swim in Superior waters. One of the finest Lake Superior beaches is Park Point Beach: the 7-mile sand bar that spans the expanse between Duluth's Aerial Lift Bridge and the Superior Port entrance. Savvy beachgoers know to check parkpointbeach.org before heading onto "the Point" for these five bits of information:

  1. Water and wave conditions: The surface water temperature around Lake Superior's shores ranges from frozen solid to the mid 70's. While warmest from mid-July through mid-August, the temperature can plunge or rocket depending on wind and weather. A hearty surfer equipped with a dry suit may welcome freezing cold water and 6-foot chop, but a recreational swimmer might want to wait until the waves die down and water temps rise before getting wet.
  2. Weather forecast at the beach: While it may be hot and sunny up the hillside in Duluth, Park Point Beach may be much cooler - or even foggy. Knowing the beach weather forecast will help you decide whether to pack a jacket or sunglasses ... or both!
  3. UV Index: Sunburn is no fun. The EPA issues a daily UV index that reflects the risk of harm from unprotected sun exposure - on days where the UV index is the high (6 or more), it is particularly important to take protective measures to prevent skin damage. See: http://www2.epa.gov/sunwise/uv-index
  4. Rip current risk: Great Lakes rip currents are strong, narrow channels of water flowing away from shore. Rip currents form due to factors like wind, wave activity, shoreline structure, and weather conditions. They vary greatly in prevalence, and danger around Lake Superior and are most regularly noticed along Park Point Beach because of its sandy shore and popularity. For more information about rip currents, see: dangerouscurrents.org
  5. Bacteria: Occasionally there could be harmful microorganisms like E. coli floating in Lake Superior along with you. It could be a real bummer, but if there is a "water contact not recommended" sign posted, you might want to hold off on plunging in. (Or, if your sense of adventure trumps a bacteria warning, you might be alright)

Posted on July 7, 2015

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