WEATHER ALERT: Coastal flood, rip-tide warning for Delaware beaches

Sussex County EOC warns Hurricane Bill could cause rough surf, strong rip currents

Warning issued by the National Weather Service, Philadelphia, Pa.
6:11 a.m. EDT, Friday, Aug. 21, 2009:

Long-period ocean swells, generated by Hurricane Bill, are beginning to propagate across the coastal waters of Delaware and New Jersey. The swells will continue to build tonight and through the weekend. Once the high rip current risk develops later today, it will likely continue into Sunday.

A moderate risk of rip currents implies that individuals planning to enter the surf should check with local beach patrols first. Be sure to swim within sight of a lifeguard, and never swim alone or at night.
A high risk of rip currents means dangerous and potentially life-threatening conditions exist for all people entering the surf. Lifeguards are reporting dangerous conditions existing in the surf.

Rip currents are strong, narrow channels of water that flow out to sea. If you become caught in a rip current, stay calm and do not fight it. Swim parallel to the shore until you break free of the current. Then swim at an angle, away from the current, toward the shore.

If you are unable to escape by swimming, float or tread water. When the current weakens, swim at an angle away from the current toward the shore. If at any time you feel you will not be able to reach the shore, draw attention to yourself by calling or waving for help.

... Moderate rip current risk this morning and high rip current risk this afternoon...

From Sussex County EOC:

The first hurricane of the 2009 Atlantic season is forecast to steer well clear of the eastern United States, but Hurricane Bill could whip up the surf along Delaware’s beaches this weekend, making for treacherous swimming and rough boating conditions.

The Sussex County Emergency Operations Center is urging the public to use caution if visiting area beaches this weekend, which could feel some of the effects of the tropical system well beyond its outer rain bands.

Forecasters are predicting waves of at least 10 to 12 feet at Delaware’s beaches with rough surf and dangerous rip currents through Sunday.

“We don’t want to unnecessarily alarm the public and have people change their plans for what is otherwise expected to be a fairly nice weekend,” EOC Director Joseph L. Thomas said. “But people need to be aware that there could be very dangerous conditions on the water over the next couple of days, with high seas, rough surf and strong rip currents. The best advice is to be careful.”

Sussex County is encouraging those visiting the area to monitor conditions and to use caution if planning a visit to the beach. While swimming may not be advisable, those who do venture into the water should heed the direction of lifeguards on duty at local beach towns and state parks.

Stay tuned to local television and radio stations for updates. For more information, contact the Sussex County EOC at (302) 855-7801.