Surf’s up in Duluth: Rip current conference today

rip currents.jpg

Rip currents clearly visible in this Delaware image.

You hear a lot of weather terms thrown around in the Midwest. Rip current is generally not one of them.

So why would scientists gather in Duluth today to talk about rip currents?

It turns out as many as 100 people a year die from rip currents in the U.S. Some of those deaths occur in the Great Lakes. In 2003 a young man drowned in a rip current in Lake Superior near Park Point in Duluth.

The conference also covered the effects of hypothermia, something swimmers in Lake Superior may encounter even in the warmest summer months.

I’ve always been in awe and had a healthy respect for Lake Superior. I’m an experienced sailor on inland lakes and won my share of races over the years. But I have never had the slightest urge to venture out on Lake Superior. That big cold water scares the heck out of me.

I’ve spoken with Jeff Solum, a fellow sailor who was one of the crew on the famous HJEMKOMST voyage from Duluth to Bergen, Norway in 1982. Jeff told me that even though they encountered fierce gales that cracked the HJEMKOMST’s hull in the Atlantic Ocean in route to Norway, the scariest weather they encountered was while training for the voyage on Lake Superior.

Superior is the greatest of the great lakes. I prefer to enjoy it’s grandeur from shore. If you’re brave enough to venture into Superior, you need to know what you’re getting into. You also better have a good weather forecast, and know that sometimes Gitchi Gumi creates its own weather.

I will post any results from the rip current conference if I get them.


  • Anonymous

    No apostrophe in the possessive “its” e.g. “enjoy it’s grandeur”.

  • Brian

    What do the arrows actually mean? What should I see under the arrows that I wouldn’t see if there wasn’t a rip current?