Chicago Beaches: How to Check Lake Michigan Water Temperature, Swimming Conditions

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As of Memorial Day weekend, Chicago beaches are officially open for 2022 the season.

However, between a lifeguard shortage, cold water temperatures and high waves, swimming may be prohibited.

According to the Chicago Park District, swimming is allowed daily from 11 a.m. - 7 p.m., only if as swim conditions allow and lifeguards are on duty.

The park district's website states that "swim conditions are updated each day around 11 a.m. based on weather and surf conditions, and around 1:30 pm based on water quality conditions. Flags may be updated throughout the day as needed."

Chicago beaches abide by a flag warning system to determine whether its safe to swim at each beach:

  • Green Flag: A green flag means that there are no swimming restrictions, swimming is permitted.
  • Yellow Flag: A yellow flag means that a swim advisory is in place:  swimming is allowed but caution is advised.  
  • Red Flag: A red flag means that a swim ban is in place, swimming is not allowed, as conditions do not meet safe swimming standards.

You can check the daily status of each beach here, or by calling (312) 74-BEACH. Signs with conditions are also posted at each beach.

Chicago beaches will remain open until Labor Day weekend.

What's a Safe Water Temperature for Swimming?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, cold-water immersion can create a condition called “immersion hypothermia,” which can conduct heat away from the body up to 25 times faster than air.

Hypothermia can occur at some level in any water that is below 70 degrees, according to NIOSH.

According to The National Weather Service, "55 degree water may not sound very cold, but it can be deadly. Plunging into cold water of any temperature becomes dangerous if you aren’t prepared for what the sudden exposure can do to your body and brain."

The National Centers for Environmental Information and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says that "70 to 78 degrees Fahrenheit is the range where most folks feel 'comfortable' swimming."

How to Check the Current Water Temperature at Lake Michigan? What's a Safe

While it may be outside, the water may still be cold. Here's how to check the current water temperature and conditions at Lake Michigan.

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