NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — Thousands of people will be heading to the shore this July Fourth weekend, but even beachgoers hundreds of miles from Hurricane Arthur’s path are facing the danger of rip currents.
The storm is churning up big waves all along the Atlantic coast as it travels northward.
“If you’re not a good swimmer, the ocean this weekend is not for you,” said Jones Beach lifeguard Cary Epstein.
As CBS 2’s Matt Kozar reported, Hurricane Arthur has moved north and the skies are clear, but the storm has created new sandbars and depressions which lead to dangerous rip currents.
Because of the risk of rip currents, high surf advisories were in effect for Long Island and Queens late Friday night.
Officials in Sea Girt, N.J. are watching the waters closely this weekend.
“We’ll keep people out of the water all together if we deem it necessary or maybe only let them go up to their knees or ankles,” beach manager Jim Freda told WCBS 880’s Ginny Kosola.
In Sea Bright, some swimmers took an early morning dip before the water got too wild Friday.
“It was beautiful this morning, flat, temperature was good,” resident Nancy Steadman Martin told CBS 2’s Weijia Jiang.
On Long Island, the day was mostly a washout with only a few die-hard beachgoers out and about, TV 10/55’s Richard Rose reported.
In Coney Island, Parks Department workers were busy keeping swimmers out of the water after dark since lifeguards are no longer on duty.
A rip current is a channel of water that flows out into the ocean from shore. The motion and waves of the ocean are constantly changing the sand on the bottom.
Water going back out to sea takes the shortest path and sometimes all that water flows into a narrow area, like a depression between two sand bars, creating a rip current that can pull swimmers away from shore.
Rip currents can be anywhere from about the length of a car to over half a football field, said Monty Reed, lifeguard coordinator for North Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.
Reed said it is always best to swim near a lifeguard stand. Also, talk to lifeguards, who can tell you how bad conditions are before you get in the water and listen to their advice.
“Stay close to shore, where you can manage yourself in the waves, and that will keep everyone safe,” Reed said.
About 100 people die every year because of rip currents, Kozar reported.
So while the average swimmer will have to be extremely careful in the waters this weekend, others went out to the beach Friday in search of some big waves courtesy of Arthur.
“It’s what we live for. We want to get some good waves. It’s hurricane season coming up the coast and time to get some good waves. That is why we’re here,” said one surfer.
As CBS 2’s Christine Sloan reported, it’s the kind of weather that brings out the surfers, but for some the waves on this Fourth of July turned out to be disappointing.
“It’s kind of messy and sloppy and you can’t get on the waves as good,” said surfer Bill Smith.
Smith traveled to the Manasquan Inlet all the way from Pennsylvania, hoping Arthur would churn up the ocean.
“Started out pretty good this morning, but it has gotten choppy,” he said. “I’ll probably head down to AC, hit some surf down there.”
Manasquan beach remained open Friday, but only the brave ventured into the water, including some die-hard divers.
“We have a boat and we haven’t been out to go fishing in the last three or four days because of the south east winds, so it has not been good and the fishing stinks too,” said Bob Grunder.
Despite the nasty rain Friday, the rest of the weekend forecast paints a sunny picture for vacationers looking to hit the beach for sand and sun.
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