Forecasters warn of 16-foot waves on Lake Michigan, ‘life-threatening’ conditions and the possibility of beach erosion, flooding

A beach hazard statement went into effect Tuesday at 10 a.m. warning of the potential for waves between 12 and 16 feet in parts of northwest Indiana along Lake Michigan. A similar warning will take effect at 3 p.m. for waves up to 14 feet in Cook County, according to the National Weather Service.
Warnings of the high waves, beach erosion and the possibility of flooding of the lakeshore came as the city had cooled down significantly. Wednesday is the autumnal equinox - which causes a unique local event called Chicagohenge - which means Mother Nature was a little early with temperatures that Tuesday shouldn't have exceeded the 60s. The cold temperatures prompted the weather service to use the headline "Autumn tomorrow, autumn temperatures today" on its website.
Forecasters warned that the high lake levels, combined with possibly some of the highest waves in months, could result in light to moderate flooding near the lake shore.
The waves were also expected to be highest from Wednesday through Thursday, when strong north winds result in higher and stronger waves.
"The big waves and the rising lake level will lead to flooding of low-lying and flood-prone areas near the lake as well as to beach erosion," says the website of the weather service.
Although Chicago's beaches are closed, there have been several drownings recently, including a 21-year-old who died in Evanston that weekend. The city was expected to hold a press conference to remind the public to stay out of the water as lifeguards are no longer on the beaches during the off-season. Meteorologists said the danger will only worsen in the coming days.
"The swimming conditions will be life-threatening, especially for inexperienced swimmers," it said. "Stay out of the water to avoid dangerous swimming conditions and do not venture onto piers, jetties, broken walls, or other coastal structures."
Visit the Tribune's weather page for updates and more information on the weather forecast.
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