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25-foot waves cause 'wipeout' conditions around Lake Michigan

October 19, 2011 |  1:21 pm

Lake Michigan waves may reach 25 feet Wednesday night in the Chicago area

Lake Michigan has had an angry fall.

Weather forecasters are predicting that Lake Michigan's waves may reach 25 feet Wednesday night in the Chicago area. That's the second time in two months.

Kevin Birk, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Chicago, said that the waves also reached such heights on Sept. 30. Then, they knocked down some bikers and runners who were exercising at the perimeter of the lake in Chicago.

The waves get that high only two or three times a year, Birk said.

Fall is the peak time for wave height, partially because the lake is at its warmest after soaking up the sun all summer. When the colder air within a storm system moves down the 200 to 300 miles of the lake from north to south, the difference in temperatures can cause extra strong winds to develop.

The City of Chicago's Office of Emergency Management  is saying wind gusts are expected to be 50 mph Wednesday night.

The office issued a warning earlier Wednesday, advising Chicago residents to exercise extreme caution and avoid running, cycling or walking near the edge of Lake Michigan. The expected high winds and waves can cause "wipeout" conditions, it said.


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Photo: Large waves from Lake Michigan splash onshore near a jogger along the Chicago lakefront in September. Credit: Kiichiro Sato / Associated Press