As NJ Lifeguard Season Winds Down, Watch Those Irma Riptides

Forecasters say the category 5 hurricane prompts a high risk of rip currents this weekend – just as lifeguard season winds down.

irma, riptides, NJ

Image via the National Weather Service

Forecasters warn that Hurricane Irma will bring dangerous riptides to the Jersey Shore this weekend.

The category 5 storm devastated the Caribbean islands on its way to Puerto Rico and Florida this week. It’s too soon to gauge if or how we’ll feel the hurricane’s wrath as its path develops – but one effect on Atlantic Ocean beaches is already clear: according to a signature all-caps alert from the National Weather Service, “SWELLS FROM IRMA WILL LIKELY MAINTAIN ROUGH SURF AND A HIGH RISK OF RIP CURRENTS INTO THE WEEKEND.” 

The warning is concerning, especially considering the fact that many lifeguards head home after Labor Day – so swimmers who brave the water at the Jersey Shore this weekend are taking an extra risk.

If you plan to take a post-Labor Day dip in the ocean this weekend, be sure to check local beaches to see whether or not lifeguards are still on duty. The NWS advises beachgoers to always swim near a lifeguard – and to ask beach officials about any surf hazards.

According to the NWS, riptides occur most often near breaks in sandbars or near structures such a jetties and piers. If you’re caught in a current, don’t swim against it. Try to relax, float, and swim in a direction following the shoreline. If you can, call or wave for help.

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