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Strong rip currents expected along the Crystal Coast into early next week

Rip current graphic national weather service 1.jpg
Graphic: National Weather Service
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National Weather Service
For swimmers that find themselves caught in a rip current, Eric Heden with the National Weather Service in Newport/Morehead City explained that they are very narrow and swimming parallel to the beach is the key to escaping their grip.

Hurricane Earl has formed as the first major hurricane of the Atlantic season, and although the storm is not expected to impact the North Carolina coast directly, for beach visitors that’s another story.

Earl is expected to remain what meteorologists call a fish storm – staying over open water without coming shore. However, that doesn’t mean the hurricane won’t impact the eastern North Carolina coast.

“It is not going to directly impact our coastline, but we’re becoming increasingly concerned that we could see some rip current activity from that storm later this week and weekend,” said Eric Heden with the National Weather Service in Newport/Morehead City, “And it’s especially concerning because if it coincides with a nice weekend, folks are going to be at the beach.”

Heden said four people drowned in 2019 rip currents along the coast of North Carolina created by a hurricane spinning out in the waters of the Atlantic Ocean, and it wasn’t Dorian.

“We actually lost more people in 2019 from Hurricane Lorenzo than Dorian, and that was from rip currents on an October weekend stretch of nice weather,” he explained.

Three deaths in North Carolina were attributed to Dorian – two who fell from ladders while preparing for the storm and one from a chainsaw injury while cleaning up in the aftermath.

Heden said staying safe is a matter of checking out beach conditions before you go or when you get there.

“Respect the flag system,” he said, “We have a flag system here on the Crystal Coast, so if it’s a red flag day you shouldn’t be out in the water swimming.”

For swimmers that find themselves caught in a rip current, Heden explained that they are very narrow and swimming parallel to the beach is the key to escaping their grip.

He said, “It doesn’t pull you under, it pulls you out and if you were to swim left or right, parallel to the coast, you’ll be out of it very quickly.”

He said swimmers get into trouble when they try to fight the currents rather than trying to swim out of them.

Annette is originally a Midwest gal, born and raised in Michigan, but with career stops in many surrounding states, the Pacific Northwest, and various parts of the southeast. She has been involved in the media industry in eastern North Carolina for more than three years. An award-winning journalist and mother of four, Annette moved to ENC to be closer to family – in particular, her two young grandchildren. It’s possible that a -27 day with a -68 windchill in Minnesota may have also played a role in that decision. In her spare time, Annette does a lot of toddler and baby cuddling, reading, designing costumes for children’s theater and producing the coolest Halloween costumes anyone has ever seen. She has also worked as a diversity and inclusion facilitator serving school districts and large corporations. It’s the people that make this beautiful area special, and she wants to share those stories that touch the hearts of others. If you have a story idea to share, please reach out by email to westona@cravencc.edu.