From our news services–updated
The National Weather Service out of Morehead City is warning beachgoers of the high threat of rip currents this weekend.
This is due to an increasing easterly swell, the NWS said in a press release.
“We are especially concerned with east facing beaches, which includes most of the Outer Banks,” the NWS said.
As Ocracoke is an island 23 miles off the mainland, the ocean is rougher here.
Ocracoke has only one place lifeguards are on duty from Memorial Day to Labor Day at the Day Use Area, locally known as the Lifeguard Beach. Since lifeguards are not on duty yet, beachgoers should be especially vigilant.
“Rip currents are not easy to see; they can be subtle or strong,” said Dave Hallac, Cape Hatteras National Seashore superintendent. “The sand bars shift and move all the time.”
Sand bars close to shore create rip currents — a break in the sand bar will create a situation for the incoming water to rush back out. This is a rip current. Rip currents occur most often on the Outer Banks two hours before and after low tide. That’s when sandbars are most exposed. People swim out to the bars and then get caught in a lateral current.
Cape Hatteras National Seashore (Seashore) urges its visitors to check the National Weather Service’s beach forecast webpage before heading to the beach.
The daily beach forecast at www.weather.gov/beach/mhx includes rip current risk levels and information about other hazards along the beach. In addition, visitors are encouraged to sign up for text alerts from Outer Banks lifeguards, ocean rescue agencies and the National Weather Service by texting “OBXBeachConditions” to 77295.
Educational signs and “Break the Grip of the Rip” are posted at the Lifeguard Beach and elsewhere on the island. Talk to the lifeguards about rip currents.
Beachgoers are encouraged to have some kind of flotation device on hand for emergencies and those attempting to rescue others should always take a flotation device.