Hurricane Larry brings threat of dangerous rip currents to NC coast


MOREHEAD CITY, N.C. (WNCT/AP) — The National Weather Service is warning that swells from Hurricane Larry will create dangerous rip current conditions that started last weekend.

News outlets report that the storm isn’t expected to make landfall in the United States, but it will be powerful enough to be felt along the East Coast.

The weather service says Outer Banks beaches from Pea Island down to Cape Lookout will experience a high rip current risk through as late as Sunday. That means powerful and numerous rip currents are expected and everyone should stay out of the water.

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Moderate rip currents are expected from Duck through Nags Head and from Shackleford Banks through North Topsail Beach. That means only experienced swimmers who know how to escape a rip current should enter the water.

If you get caught in a rip current, yell for help and remain calm. Do not exhaust yourself and stay afloat while waiting for help. If you have to swim out of a rip current, swim parallel to shore and back toward the beach when possible. Do not attempt to swim directly against a rip current because you will tire quickly.

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Hurricanes heighten the strength and intensity of rip currents and can prove to be fatal, even when thousands of miles away.

Warning Coordination Meteorologist for the NWS Newport/Morehead City, Erik Heden, compared Larry to Lorenzo in 2019.

“Most people remember 2019 Dorian,” Heden said. “Of course what happened in Ocracoke and the EF2 tornado in Emerald Isle, but most of us didn’t have a lot from Dorian. We actually had more lives lost in NC from Lorenzo, the powerful hurricane in mid-October with large swells that reached our beaches like they will with Larry.”

The easiest thing you can do to stay safe this week is to not go in the water until things calm down, most likely by Saturday or Sunday. If you do plan on going swimming, do so near a lifeguard. If no lifeguards are available, make sure to swim in pairs and always have adult supervision.

If you plan on heading to the beach this fall, Erik warns, “At the beach, there won’t be lifeguards there like there are in the summertime. And it’s a heightened risk, definitely one of the highest we’ve had this summer for sure … if somebody needs help, not to go in after them. It’s really hard, but call 911 and then throw them a flotation device.”

Please be careful, and as always, remain weather aware.

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