on all of the Outer Banks this week are being warned to expect rough
breaking waves and rip currents as Tropical Storm Cristobal passes well
offshore Tuesday night into Wednesday.
The rip current risk is
high on Hatteras and Ocracoke beaches today, and that is expected to
continue into mid-week, said Laura Patano, forecaster with the National
Weather Service in Newport, N.C.
Today's elevated risk is being
caused by gusty northeast winds. The winds, Patano said, will be
diminishing gradually into Wednesday
However, beginning late
tomorrow, the area will start being affected by swells from Tropical
Storm Cristobal, which was still lingering around the Bahamas this
afternoon with winds of 60 mph.
The storm is expected to pick up
speed on Tuesday as it heads north and then turns northeast, and it may
become a minimal hurricane.
In addition to the rip currents,
swimmers can expect very rough surf and big breaking waves. The
high waves can pick up swimmers and slam them head first into the sand,
causing neck or back injuries.
Patano said breaking waves along the Outer Banks are predicted to be 3 to 4 feet Tuesday and 5 to 6 feet on Wednesday.
The rough surf, she said, could linger several days after Cristobal's offshore passage.
is also a small craft advisory in effect that is expected to last into
Thursday. Seas could be 6 to 9 feet as Cristobal nears. The
Diamond Shoals buoy this morning measured a wave height of 11 feet.
currents are powerful, channeled currents of water flowing away from
shore. They typically extend from the shoreline, through the surf zone,
and past the line of breaking waves. Rip currents can occur at any
beach with breaking waves.
Rip currents are the number-one public safety risk on beaches in the United States, according to the National Weather Service.
powerful seaward channels accounted for at least seven deaths in North
Carolina last year and on average, 100 drownings annually nationwide.
are advised to use extreme caution and to never try to swim directly
back into shore against a rip current. As illustrated in the
graphic on this page, people should swim parallel to shore and then,
when past the pull of the rip current, head back into the beach.
go into the water to assist another swimmer without a floatation device
of some sort, such as a raft or boogie board. Swim when possible
at a lifeguarded beach. The National Park Service maintains a
lifeguarded beach at Buxton on Hatteras Island, and there is also a
lifeguarded Beach on Ocracoke.