During the swimming season, the water temperature reading on ParkPointBeach.org comes from direct measurements from a thermistor attached to the beach side of the Duluth Inlet, by the Lift Bridge (GPS coordinates 46.78, -92.0877). This thermistor is 2 feet below the water's surface, with temperature readings transmitted every 15 minutes, and has been in place since August 18, 2016. For more detailed temperature data from this site, see the bottom of the page at infosportwashington.cee.wisc.edu/wave_duluth_nearshore.html.
The temperature probe is removed in the fall. During the off-season, water temperature comes from the Great Lakes Observing System and the NOAA Great Lakes Coastal Forecasting System’s Nowcast. This Nowcast was developed by the Great Lakes Environmental Research Lab, and is a numerical model that calculates temperatures (along with waves and currents) for each of the Great Lakes. For more Lake Superior and Great Lakes temperature data, see www.coastwatch.msu.edu.
Current wave heights are from measurements taken by a pressure sensor attached to the beach side of the Duluth Inlet, by the Lift Bridge (GPS coordinates 46.77980, -92.0875).
The sensor sits on the bottom of the lake and can detect changes in wave heights down to 1 mm. The data are updated every 20 minutes, and represents a 5-minute average wave height. This sensor is also removed in the fall and replaced in the spring. For more detailed wave data, see infosportwashington.cee.wisc.edu/wave_duluth_nearshore.html.
Daily forecasted wave heights are provided by the Duluth National Weather Service Surf Zone Forecast.
Note that waves grow taller as they move into shallow waters.
Daily weather forecasts are provided by the NOAA National Weather Service Point Forecast.
The UV index forecast on ParkPointBeach.org comes from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s SunWise website. Ultraviolet light is produced by the sun and can cause health problems. The UV index provides a gage for understanding the amount of ultraviolet radiation predicted to reach a particular place on Earth at solar noon. More information about the UV index, access to the UV index for other parts of the country, and sun safety tips are available at SunWise.
The swim hazard risk data comes from the Duluth National Weather Service Surf Zone Forecast, and is calculated based on the wind speed, wave heights, and direction. Note that rip currents have been reported on green (low risk) and yellow (moderate risk) days. If rip currents are reported, the risk is automatically upgraded to RED (High Risk). Park Point also has a flag-based warning system, with green, yellow, or red flags flying at four locations along Park Point, reflecting the rip current risk for the day.
Rip currents are powerful channels of water moving away from shore. Unaware swimmers can find themselves being pulled out into the lake. Each year, numerous deaths across the Great Lakes are attributed to rip currents. Learn more about Rip Currents and how to escape them before going to the beach!
Bacteria monitoring occurs twice a week throughout the summer on four beaches on the Lake Superior side of Park Point:
Elevated numbers of bacteria may indicate the presence of pathogens that could cause human illness. When elevated numbers are found, Water Contact Advisories are issued for that beach, until results indicate that the levels have declined to safe levels.
Typically, Lake Superior’s relatively clean beaches do not warrant water contact advisories. Water contact advisories are more common in the St. Louis River estuary. See recent water contact advisories from the Duluth area.
Thanks to Solglimt Bed and Breakfast's webcam, ParkPointBeach.org gets a new photo of the same Park Point Beach location each hour. This is a good way to visualize the conditions on the Point.