passing offshore will bring rough surf and rip
Forecasters predicted a busy hurricane season
this year, and that’s exactly what we have now.
current risk for much of the next week
There are two named storms – Danielle and Earl – and a third just
waiting for a name. And other strong tropical waves are
keep rolling off Africa as we approach the peak of the hurricane season
Though neither Danielle nor Earl is expected to directly threaten the
East Coast, we will see impacts from the storms on Hatteras and
That impact will be rough seas and a high threat of rip currents
beginning tomorrow, easing the first of the week, and then picking up
again later in the week.
It will not be a good week for swimmers in the ocean. However, it could
be a good week for surfers.
This evening, Danielle was a strong Category 4 storm that is forecast
to past east of Bermuda toward the end of the weekend. And
with a passage east of Bermuda, those 135 mph winds will send large
waves toward the coast.
The National Weather Service at Newport, N.C., says that the
long-period swell energy and an afternoon low tide will bring a high
risk of rip currents for all beaches north of Cape Lookout, including
Hatteras and Ocracoke, through Saturday evening. The most
time for rip currents is a couple of hours either side of low tide,
which will be about 4:30 p.m. on Saturday.
NWS meteorologist Hal Austin says that the high threat is expected to
continue through Sunday and ease the first of next week.
However, Danielle is being closely followed by Earl, which was still a
tropical storm this evening, but Austin said it is predicted to be a
hurricane by Sunday.
Earl is now forecast to stay off the East Coast also.
is forecast to move north between North Carolina and Bermuda, bringing
it closer to our beaches.
Austin said the rip current threat will pick up again as Earl
approaches later next week and into the Labor Day weekend.
And finally a tropical low right behind Earl is expected to become
Tropical Storm Fiona. That storm is forecast to be farther
than Danielle and Earl and perhaps move farther west before curving
northwest, and it could affect the East Coast by the week after next.
You can keep up with the local forecast at http://www.erh.noaa.gov/er/mhx/
and you can check the daily rip current forecast at http://www.erh.noaa.gov/mhx/RipHazard.html.
The National Park Service has lifeguarded beaches at Coquina Beach on
Bodie Island at at the Day Use Area on Ocracoke. There are no
lifeguarded beaches on Hatteras this year.
Click here to see video of a
satellite view of Hurricane Danielle
Click here to see video of a
satellite view of Tropical Storm Earl
Rough surf conditions routinely produce life-threatening rip currents
capable of overtaking even the strongest swimmers and surfers. The
National Park Service offers the following information and tips to help
Outer Banks visitors avoid this potentially deadly ocean hazard.
Rip currents are channels of water that develop in an opening in a sand
bar. Though relatively narrow near the beach, rip currents can increase
to over 50 yards in width as they extend up to 1000 feet offshore. The
velocity of the water can be as high as 5 mph.
Rip currents can be identified before entering the water. Look for an
area of murky water due to sediment mixing as the channel opened in the
sandbar. If the rip current has lasted a long time, the color of the
water will appear darker than the surrounding water because of the
channel carved by the flowing water. Rip currents will also move
objects and/or foam steadily seaward and will cause a break in the
incoming wave pattern.
The most common mistake of those caught in a rip current is to panic
and attempt to swim directly back toward the shore. Even the best
Olympic swimmers can not successfully swim towards the shore in the
strongest rip currents. Rip currents can pull a swimmer away from the
shore but not under the water.
What to do if caught in a rip
- Stay out of
the water during dangerous surf conditions.
- Know how to
swim. Non-swimmers should not rely on floats, such as boogie boards,
while in deep water.
- Always swim
near a lifeguard.
- Locate rip
currents before entering the water.
in to NOAA weather radio and monitor websites (National Weather
Service, Eastern Dare County, NC) and local media for updated surf
conditions during your stay on the Outer Banks.
- Check with
the lifeguards about rip currents and other hazardous conditions.
not attempt to rescue someone caught in a rip current. Notify a
lifeguard or, if there is no lifeguard, yell directions on how to
escape, throw the victim something that floats, and call 911.
calm. Remember, it will not pull you under.
parallel to the shore until you break free, then swim diagonally toward
- If you
cannot swim out of the current, float until it weakens, then swim
diagonally toward the shore.
- Summon help
by waving your hands.
For more information on rip currents, ask a lifeguard or check the
website at http://www.ripcurrents.noaa.gov.