Waterfront Safety Information

Lake Superior
11-20-2015 The North Breakwall gate is now closed for the Winter.


Marquette residents, and visitors alike, take joy in the many beautiful city beaches this coastal city has along Lake Superior. Although enjoying the beach is generally considered a safe activity, there have recently been a series of unfortunate events leaving our community wondering if more could be done to help keep beach goers safe as they enjoy the City’s waterfront. A Waterfront Safety Task Force (WSTF) was established on August 30, 2010 by the Marquette City Commission. The group was charged with in-depth exploration of waterfront safety. The WSTF spent considerable time analyzing data from proficient sources and researching solutions for identified problems. It is clear from the data that a “one size fits all” approach will not work in our city.

Flag Advisory System

*During swimming season, the current flag status can be monitored here.

Updated: Friday, November 20, 2015 2:56 PM

  Green Flag Yellow Flag Red Flag No Swimming
South Beach                                 
McCarty's Cove                                                  
North McCarty's Cove                                    
Picnic Rocks    
Middle Bay Beach at Presque Isle                                                 

Waves calm to 2 feet – green flag – low hazard
Waves 2 to 4 feet – yellow flag – medium hazard
Waves over 4 feet – red flag – high hazard – no swimming
High Hazard - Water Closed to Public - No Lifeguards on Duty

*Marquette's lifeguarded beach season runs from Memorial Day through Labor Day. Flags are advisories only. Persons using unguarded beaches must exercise caution, responsibility, and common sense.

One of the first action steps taken to proactively administer the waterfront safety issues was the implementation of the City’s Beach Flag Advisory system. The Marquette Fire Department posts flag advisories at South Beach, McCarty's Cove, North McCarty’s Cove, Middle Beach at Presque Isle, and Picnic Rocks waterfronts. Colored flags are posted at the waterfront to indicate swimming conditions. The flag statuses are also posted on the City's website throughout the day. Below is a description of the flag advisory system.

Green flag


Waves calm to 2 feet – green flag – low hazard

Yellow Flag


Waves 2 to 4 feet – yellow flag – medium hazard

Red Flag


Waves over 4 feet – red flag – high hazard – no swimming
High Hazard - Water Closed to Public - No Lifeguard on Duty

Current MeterRip Current Sign-Click to Enlarge

On Tuesday, June 21, 2011 a rip current meter was deployed underwater at Picnic Rocks beach in Marquette. This current meter reports real-time data on water temperature, wave height, current speed, and atmospheric pressure. The meter is only operational during the swimming season. This project is expected to last three years.

The data being collected from the meter can be obtained online, by going here. The link will bring you to the current meter's data website (WQData site). From the WQData site, you can select various tabs to view a complete listing of data, graphs for each available parameter, statistics, etc.

Interpreting the Data: The current meter has 3 sensors (pictured below with yellow dots). The three sensors are named Vel.E, Vel.N, and Vel.U. The abbreviations stand for Velocity Component East, Velocity Component North, and Velocity Component Up, respectively. Each of the sensors has it’s own “beam” that measures velocity. The velocity is measured in feet per second. The current meter also measures signal strength. Signal strength is commonly used as signal-to-noise ratio (SNR), which compares the magnitude of the received signal to the ambient electronics noise level. SNR is reported in a logarithmic scale (dB). These parameters are displayed in the data readings being transmitted from the current meter on the WQData site.

As you can see in the diagram to the left, there are 5 cells listed.

On the current meter's automated website, the data readings are posted by cell. The first Vel.E, Vel.N, Vel.U, SNR are an average of the (5) cells. The next set is the readings from cell 1 (closest to the bottom). Cells 2 through 5 follow.

Click here for an example reading with descriptions

The current meter takes a reading of all parameters every five minutes, and stores the information in a data logger. Every 15 minutes, the data logger transmits the data via cell modem to a server at Marquette City Hall, where the data is automatically pushed to the WQData site and NOAA.

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Beach Flag Advisory System

Current Meter Data Website

Location Sketch

Michigan BeachGuard System

NOAA-NWS Marquette Long Shore and Lake Superior Rip Current Forecast

Parks & Beaches

Parks & Recreation Department

Shoreline Safety Zone Map