Coast Guard: Lake Michigan is so cold it’s deadly

Lake Michigan temperatures remain in the mid-40s

Macatawa Bay
The Macatawa Bay. (May 19, 2016)

HOLLAND, Mich. (WOOD) — High temperatures near 80 degrees are on the horizon for West Michigan, but the threat of hypothermia is still high in Lake Michigan.

Lake Michigan’s water temperature is in the mid-40s. Inland lakes are not much warmer. Water temperatures usually don’t climb into the 60s until mid- to late June.

water temperature and hypothermia risk graphic

“We’ve already lost lives to hypothermia on Lake Michigan,” said Rachel North of Suttons Bay in northwestern Michigan, who lost her brother to hypothermia in 2012 on a warm spring day.

In March, a 27-year-old man was kayaking when he overturned into frigid Lake Michigan on the Wisconsin side. The U.S. Coast Guard spent two days looking for him before giving up the search.

Even experienced boaters, kayakers and stand-up paddle boarders need to be aware of the risks.

Jim Misiewicz of Holland was one of the first to start paddling in the area. He says it is important to always know the risks of going on the water and prepare appropriately.

“It’s a serious situation and I would never put myself or anyone that I paddle with in that position,” Misiewicz said.

Anyone heading out onto the water should plan for the worst-case scenario.

For boaters, this means wearing your life jacket and having a way to signal your location to the Coast Guard if your boat goes down.

For kayakers and paddlers, it means wearing your life jackets and having a dry bag. Just as important for paddlers as life jackets is a leash, allowing anyone who goes overboard to get back on their board and out of the cold water.


  • Wear a life jacket. As they say, the only life jacket that will save your life is the one you’re wearing.
  • Wear cold water clothing appropriate for the water temperature: wet suits, dry suits, etc.



Mayo Clinic on hypothermia

Boating safety tips from the U.S. Coast Guard

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