60 mph winds causing 15-foot waves on South Beach in South Haven

SOUTH HAVEN, Mich. — Dozens of drivers drove their cars slowly through the parking lot on South Beach Wednesday afternoon, getting pictures of the waves crashing over the pier. 

According to public safety, waves at Lake Michigan reached 15 feet.

“This is horrible where it’s pretty to watch but stay away,” said Paul Quinn, a firefighter and paramedic with South Haven Area Emergency Services. “Enjoy it from a distance. You don’t even want to go near this at all.”

Some drivers stepped out of their vehicles and snapped  pictures of the waves on their phones. Many stood at a distance as the water flooded the beach and parts of the parking lot.

Quinn said that’s a safe place to see it. A few inches of water can knock anyone down.

“I’m sure the fire chief will tell you that there’s no way to do any rescues in this,” Quinn said. “We’re not going to be able to get out there. We are not going to be able to get to you if you get into trouble with this.”

Quinn said wind gusts reached 50 mph which caused widespread outages in the area. All traffic lights were out. Drivers were asked to treat those intersections as four-way stops when heading home or to the grocery store for Thanksgiving shopping.

“When it comes to cooking your turkeys if you got to do it on generators, then make sure it’s the way it’s supposed to,” Quinn said. “Just make sure your ovens and stuff are prepared. We’ve already had a stove fire this morning already.”

He said all generators need to operate outside so that it gets proper ventilation.

Power returned for several homes by evening on Wednesday. However, the high winds are expected to continue until Thursday afternoon, he said. 

“It’s suppose to get worse later,” Quinn said. “From what we’re hearing, reports are saying they’re up to 60 mph max winds. So this is just the tip of the iceberg. This is just the start of it.”

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