UTAH COUNTY, Utah (ABC4 News) — Utah Lake has had its fair share of issues, from harmful algal bloom to invasive predators.
In May 2020, Priscilla Bienkowski, 18 and Sophia Hernandez, 17, went missing on the lake, prompting a week-long search that ended in both girls being found dead.
But with an average depth of only nine feet and a popular destination for fishing, boating and water sports, what conditions can make the lake dangerous and what can people do to stay safe while recreating on the lake?
According to an article from the Utah Lake Commission, the fact that the lake is fairly shallow is a factor. Windy weather can create larger and more powerful swells in shallow water than in deep water.
In addition, at 24 miles long and 12 miles across, the wind can rapidly gain speed across the lake’s large surface area with nothing to block it. These factors, coupled with temperature, stormy weather, and inappropriate safety precautions can create dangerous conditions.
The article quoted a boater on Utah Lake who stated: “I’ve been on many lakes during severe storms but nothing comes close to the large swells and waves on Utah Lake in inclement weather. It’s downright terrifying.”
However, Utah Lake State Park’s website has several resources to help visitors keep track of the lake’s conditions. For example, it includes a webcam which allows visitors to check the lake’s conditions before they arrive.
In addition, the site includes a link to the National Weather Service to check the marine weather conditions of the lake. This site allows visitors to check the temperature of the water, wind speeds, and access safety warnings. Finally, visitors can check the lake’s water levels at Central Utah Water Conservancy
According to watertemperature.net, Utah Lake is currently 50 degrees Fahrenheit and too cold for swimming, which is another factor that could make the lake dangerous. Finally, always wear a life jacket when in the water.
Before heading to the lake this summer, make sure that you’ve checked conditions and are taking appropriate safety precautions.
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