September 22, 2015

Gusty winds forecast to bring heavy surf, rip currents


The National Weather Service in Newport, N.C., today issued a high surf advisory for the Outer Banks from Cape Hatteras north.

Forecasters at the NWS say that a high pressure to the north of the Outer Banks and an area of low pressure southeast of Cape Hatteras will combine to cause gusty northeast winds and building seas today, tomorrow, and perhaps into Thursday.

The persistent onshore flow will result in dangerous shorebreak, a high threat of rip currents, and a threat of minor beach erosion on east-facing beaches.

Surf heights of  6 to 9 feet are forecast, and the large breaking waves will be dangerous for anyone entering the water.

Rip 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.

Swimmers 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.

The most likely time for rip currents will be a few hours either side of low tide, which is at 9 p.m. tonight and around 9 a.m. Wednesday morning.

In addition, there is a 40 to 60 percent chance of showers all week.

The National Hurricane Center is keeping an eye on the non-tropical area of low pressure that has persisted off the southeast coast since last week.  It is producing disorganized showers and thunderstorms, but upper-level winds are forecast to be marginally conducive for development.

The Hurricane Center is giving this system a low chance -- 20 percent -- of acquiring some tropcial or subtropical characteristics as it moves westward over the next five days.

Forecasting models differ significantly on when the nasty weather will clear out.  One model has it moving offshore on the weekend with north to northwest winds behind a front contributing to calmer seas.  Another model is forecasting that the onshore flow will continue, and perhaps increase, over the weekend.

Continuing gusty northeast winds through the weekend could be a concern with higher than normal astronomical tides expected during the period.

Sunday night, Sept. 27, is the full moon, which will be a larger than normal "Supermoon."

To keep up with the latest forecasts and advisories, go to the local Weather Service website at

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