Igor will be way offshore but will cause dangerous rip currents
By IRENE NOLAN
Igor will pass far offshore over the weekend, but will cause dangerous
rip currents on the Cape Hatteras National Seashore.
Igor had been a strong Category 4 hurricane with winds of 145
mph. This afternoon, it is a Category 3 with winds of 120
but it’s still a storm to be reckoned with.
It’s taking aim at Bermuda and will pass hundreds of miles east of
Hatteras and Ocracoke islands, but we will still feel the effects with
an elevated rip current risk, small craft advisories for the large
swells, and, perhaps, some beach erosion.
The large waves that Igor is pushing ahead of it began reaching the
seashore yesterday and will continue over the weekend and into early
next week, perhaps peaking Sunday and Sunday night at 10 to 13 feet in
the coastal waters.
These large southeast swells, with a period of up to 13 to 16 seconds
between them, will keep the rip current risk at a high level at least
through the weekend, according to the National Weather Service’s local
office in Newport, N.C.
Rip currents occur most frequently a few hours before and after low
tide, which was about 9:30 a.m. today and will be about 10:30 a.m.
tomorrow and 11:30 a.m. on Sunday.
The surf will pound North Carolina beaches into early next week, the
Weather Service warns, and a high surf advisory is likely to be issued
over the weekend and continue into early next week also. The big,
long-period swells hitting the beaches also will bring a threat of
In addition, the Weather Service has issued small craft advisory for
rough seas until Wednesday morning, and a marine weather statement that
warns of dangerous conditions in area inlets, especially for small
boats and especially on the outgoing tide.
You would think that this forecast of big swells would make wavesailors
now on the island for the Hatteras Wave Jam and the surfers arriving
for the Eastern National Surfing Association competition very happy.
But so far that has not happened. Conditions are apparently
not great for either group.
Anne Bowers, windsurfer and Island Free Press writer, says that there
hasn’t been enough wind to propel the sailors through the very large
waves that started coming ashore yesterday. The result, she
has been some “carnage.”
Wave Jam started Wednesday and continues through tomorrow.
says the competition has been moved to Ramp 30 between Salvo and Avon,
where the wind is slightly higher.
For more on Wave Jam, go to http://184.108.40.206/projects/wavefest/
Surfers are parking their vehicles all along Highway 12 to check out
the conditions, but Gary McHatton at Natural Art Surf Shop says that
they, too, have been disappointed so far.
“The surf is really big, doubling up, and closing,” McHatton said
If you aren’t a surfer that means, he said, that there’s “not much of a
wave to ride” and too much “white water.”
“It’s just not providing much surf, but I guess a lot of people are
going out and hoping,” he said.
The annual Eastern National Surfing Association competition begins
Sunday at the Lighthouse Beach in Buxton. It runs through
Saturday, Sept. 25. For more information go to http://www.surfesa.org/
MORE INFORMATION ON RIP CURRENTS
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.
to do if caught in a rip current
out of the water during dangerous surf conditions.
how to swim. Non-swimmers should not rely on floats, such as boogie
boards, while in deep water.
swim near a lifeguard.
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.
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
you cannot swim out of the current, float until it weakens, then swim
diagonally toward the shore.
help by waving your hands.
rip current forecast
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
For more information on rip currents, check the website at http://www.ripcurrents.noaa.gov.