NEW YORK (WABC) — As Hurricane Lee churns in the Atlantic Ocean, coastal communities in the Tri-State are preparing dangerous rip currents and high surf at their beaches.
While the storm is not expected to make landfall in the area, it could 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.
Seaside Heights authorities are warning swimmers they risk a summons if they go into the water at beaches without lifeguards over the coming days.
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 the temporary policy.
While Seaside Heights will have lifeguards on duty again this weekend, they anticipate red flag conditions and are also warning that swimmers who disregard lifeguards will risk a summons.
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.
A section of Dune Road that runs parallel to the ocean was already closed yesterday after it became covered by water.
On Tuesday, Gov. Kathy Hochul announced the deployment of 50 soldiers from the New York National Guard to begin preparations on Long Island.
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 will be in effect starting Thursday, which will further stir the swelling tide.
Swimming at town beaches is currently prohibited through the end of the week.
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 slated for Friday and through the weekend due to effects from the distant Hurricane Lee.
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.)
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