Friday, September 3, 2010

Earl's gone, but wrath will be felt Labor Day Weekend


In the wake of Hurricane Earl, the threat for rip currents will continue through the Labor Day weekend along the East Coast.

While the wind and rain effects of Earl will pull away from the New England coast by early Saturday, beachgoers and surfers should be aware of another danger lurking in the ocean waters: deadly rip currents.
Beaches in Cape Cod are taking precautionary measures.

Daniel Tobin, director of Chatham's Parks and Recreation said the "east-facing beaches [of Chatham] are closed for swimming." He anticipates that these closures will continue through Saturday and possibly in to Sunday.

However, Tobin said the south-facing beaches of Chatham are open and likely to remain so. Tobin also noted that they are also starting to see rain from Earl.

Bob Rosenberg, assistant supervisor of lifeguards for Bradley Beach in New Jersey, said that a full staff of lifeguards will be on duty this weekend. Rosenberg said swimming will not be allowed on Friday as Earl has created rough conditions.

Rosenberg said they are expecting a lot of visitors over Labor Day weekend. He said "there will be some restrictions" for swimming, depending on water conditions.

While Rosenberg said it is to early to know exactly what the water conditions and the subsequent restrictions will be, he said there won't be unlimited swimming. For example, he said people may only be allowed in as far as waist-level water.

These restrictions are established to help diminish the risk of people getting caught in rip currents.
Rip currents are dangerous swift-moving channels of water that originate at the shoreline and flow out to sea. Their development is aided by rough surf from tropical systems.

Long swells generated by Earl will travel thousands of miles up and down the East Coast, allowing the threat for rip currents to extend all along the coast. This will be true even farther south through the Carolinas and Florida, where wave heights will be subsiding.

Last week, as Hurricane Danielle passed far offshore, there were hundreds of water rescues along the East Coast. Since Earl is stronger and tracking closer to the coast, the strength and frequency of rip currents is expected to be worse.

Be sure to heed the advice of beach patrol when venturing into the ocean this weekend. If you become trapped in a rip current, act calm and swim parallel to the coastline while signaling for help. Staff Writer Kirstie Hettinga contributed to this report. 

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