Coast Guard and the National Weather Service are advising boaters and
swimmers to use extreme caution this week and through the weekend as
Hurricane Leslie creates dangerous conditions on North
Carolina beaches and in many of the inlets along the coast.
is currently a Category 1 hurricane. It is expected to pass close to
Bermuda over the weekend, perhaps as a Category 2, and long-period
swells – 6 to 9 feet by the weekend in coastal waters with a period of
12 to 13 seconds – will bring dangerously rough seas.
The National Weather Service has issued a beach hazards statement for dangerous shorebreak and a high threat of rip currents.
Coast Guard regularly works with local lifeguards and ocean rescue
agencies to respond to swimmers in distress. According to the National
Weather Service, since 2000, 82 people have been killed by rip currents
in the Carolinas. A large percentage of Carolina rip current drowning
deaths are males between the ages of 31 to 50, but all ages and
genders have been affected.
Guard Sector North Carolina personnel have responded to at least 13
swimmers in distress throughout the summer, usually because they were
caught in a rip current, swimming in the strong currents of an inlet,
or overcome by heavy surf. Half of
these distress situations resulted in drowning deaths.
times the biggest rip current outbreaks occur from swells from a
distant storm," said Steven Pfaff from the National Weather Service
Office in Wilmington. "The swells affect large areas of coastline,
putting a higher number of people at risk. Always pay attention to
lifeguards and adhere to instructions from the local beach communities,
never swim alone and check the rip current forecast for your location
before heading to the beach."
addition to rip currents, the high surf associated with Hurricane
Leslie creates elevated risk in the numerous shallow-draft inlets along
Sector North Carolina personnel respond to several capsized boats every
summer related to breaking surf in the inlets.
to the National Weather Service, wave hazards near inlet entrances are
greatest when large incoming waves coincide with a falling, or outgoing
tide. The tidal current interacts with the large waves causing very
steep and dangerous wave conditions near the entrances of inlets.
are urged to always wear a life jacket, check weather forecasts prior
to going offshore, and never enter an inlet with breaking surf. Surf
conditions are dangerous not only to the mariner, but also to the
rescuers. The Coast Guard recommends taking the time to transit to a
on Aug. 26, a 24-foot power boat with four people on board was
capsized by breaking surf in Hatteras Inlet. All the boaters were
rescued by a Coast Guard crew aboard a 47-foot Motor Life Boat.
ocean is unforgiving," said Capt. Anthony Popiel, the Coast Guard
Sector North Carolina commander. "It is extremely important for people
to carefully watch weather conditions and know their capabilities prior
to getting underway or going in the water. Good judgment, careful
planning and proper safety gear can prevent a fun day from turning into
For more information on the National Weather Service advisory, visit:
Newport/Morehead City NWS Office http://www.erh.noaa.gov/er/mhx/
Wilmington NWS Office: http://www.erh.noaa.gov/ilm/
For more information on rip currents, visit http://www.ripcurrents.noaa.gov/