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Safety First: City Of Duluth Reminds Boaters To Pay Attention To The Water Current Notification Lights

Fishing boat
Xurxo Lobato/Getty Images

Boating can be a magical journey but can also be dangerous, especially on Lake Superior.  The City of Duluth wants to remind boaters that there is a water current notification system in place to help with your navigation.  I didn’t even know this existed, but will check it out the next time I’m in Canal Park near the Aerial Lift Bridge.

The system uses colored lights to warn boaters of the conditions.   The red, amber, and green lights are located on the north tower of the Aerial Lift Bridge on both the lake side and the harbor side of the Bridge.   How does it work?  The fine people at the Army Corps of Engineers have sensors located  in the water on both the north and south pier that monitor the currents.

Did you know the bridge only has 15 feet of clearance to the water when fully lowered?  There’s a trivia question for you! Boaters are urged to pay attention to the light signals to maneuver safely when approaching the Aerial Lift Bridge from any direction. The City wants to ensure enjoyable and safe boating for all users.

What do the light signals mean?

RED LIGHT:   the current is inbound from the lake at ¾ to 1 ½ knots, meaning that water vessels in the harbor will encounter currents pushing them further into the harbor and away from the bridge. Vessels in the canal on the lake side will encounter currents pushing towards the Bridge.

AMBER LIGHT:  means the current is neutral moving at ¾ to 1 ½ knot and not going in either direction.

GREEN LIGHT:  indicates the current is outbound to the lake at ¾ to 1 ½ knot so vessels in the harbor could be pushed toward the Bridge and for those in the canal on the lake side; the currents will flow away from the bridge out towards the Lake.

If either the RED or GREEN lights are flashing, that means the current is flowing in or out at a speed over 1½ knots and extra caution is needed to avoid a hazardous situation.

Print this and keep it in your boat to help you navigate more safely when leaving or entering the harbor.  I’ll be waving at you from the pier :)

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