Hurricane Lee stirs up dangerous rip currents along NJ, Long Island

ByEyewitness News WABC logo
Saturday, September 16, 2023
Tri-State prepares for potential coastal effects from Hurricane Lee
CeFaan Kim has more on how coastal communities are preparing for the potential impact of Hurricane Lee this weekend.

NEW YORK (WABC) -- As Hurricane Lee churns in the Atlantic Ocean, coastal communities in New Jersey and Long Island are warning of dangerous rip currents and high surf at their beaches.

While the storm will remain far off shore, Lee will cause dangerous conditions and beach erosion along parts of the East Coast as it moves north.

"Despite the weakening that is forecast, keep in mind that the expanding wind field of Lee will produce impacts well away from the storm center," the National Hurricane Center said.

ALSO READ | New Yorkers urged to prepare for possible impact of Hurricane Lee

New Jersey

In Toms River, swimmers will be cited for disorderly conduct if they go into the water at beaches over the weekend.

Seaside Heights authorities are also warning swimmers they risk a summons if they go into the water at beaches without lifeguards.

An increase in rescues this week, including an 81-year-old Bergen County man pulled out by boogie boarder in neighboring Seaside Park Tuesday afternoon, prompted their temporary policy.

While Seaside Heights will have lifeguards on duty again this weekend, they anticipate red flag conditions.

Long Island

Southampton has declared a state of emergency as the town gets ready for the passing storm, with concerns that the Atlantic Ocean could breach into Shinnecock Bay.

Town officials fear both the bay and the ocean will connect and completely flood the area.

As Hurricane Lee churns in the Atlantic Ocean, New Jersey and Long Island officials are warning of dangerous rip currents at their beaches. Meteorologist Jeff Smith and Eyewitness New reporter Chantee Lans has the details.

A section of Dune Road that runs parallel to the ocean was already closed Thursday after it became covered by water.

The Town of Hempstead is also working to reinforce beaches and alert people to prepare their homes ahead of any potential impact of the storm.

Experts say the region could see waves as high as 15 feet and sustained wind gusts, which could increase the risk of coastal flooding and downed trees. Additionally, a new moon was in effect starting Thursday, which furthered stir the swelling tide.

Swimming at town beaches is currently prohibited through the end of the week. Lifeguards will be out over the weekend, but their mission will be to keep people out of the water.

Ed Costigan and Tammy McLoughlin, both Jones Beach Lifeguard Captains, warned beachgoers to stay out of the water on Mornings @ 10:

Ed Costigan and Tammy McLoughlin, both Jones Beach Lifeguard Captains, warn beachgoers to stay out of the water as Hurricane Lee approaches.

Gov. Kathy Hochul announced the deployment of 50 soldiers from the New York National Guard help on Long Island.

Meanwhile, surfers flocked to Long Beach on Friday.

"For skiers this is an epic powder day," resident Brandon Finn said. "For surfers, this is the day they've been looking forward to the whole season."

RELATED | Torrential rains, flash floods and a likely tornado hit New England ahead of Hurricane Lee

New York City

The New York City Emergency Management Department placed NYC communities under an advisory to elevate their readiness levels in anticipation of potential coastal flooding and hazardous beach conditions.

The agency said it strongly urges New Yorkers, particularly those residing or operating businesses in coastal areas, to remain alert and take preparedness actions.

"For New Yorkers in our coastal communities, consider this a reminder to be prepared, particularly during hurricane season," said NYC Emergency Management Commissioner Zach Iscol.

While beaches have closed to swimmers for the season, the NYC Parks Commissioner also reminded surfers to use caution when entering the water over the weekend.

"Despite being some of the strongest swimmers in the city, we are urging surfers to be aware of the high rip current risk as we experience the aftereffects of Hurricane Lee," said NYC Parks Commissioner Sue Donoghue.

What to know about rip currents

A rip current, which flows out toward the ocean, can quickly pull a swimmer away from the shore.

Rip currents usually reach a speed of 1 to 2 feet per second, but some can clock in at 8 feet per second, which is faster than an Olympic swimmer, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

If you're caught in a rip current, the first step is to flip to your back and float. Staying calm and not exhausting yourself by fighting against the current is essential to avoid drowning, NOAA said.

Next, you want to swim parallel to the sand until you escape the rip current, which is usually less than 80 feet wide, according to NOAA.

Rip currents are often strongest at low tide, experts added.

According to the United States Lifesaving Association, you may be able to spot a rip current by looking for: a difference in water color; a line of foam or debris moving out to sea; or a narrow gap of darker, calm-looking water in between breaking waves.

(ABC News contributed to this report.)

ALSO READ | Hurricane Lee: Latest path, updates


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