Hurricane Arthur: Stay safe on the coast

The first names hurricane of the season, Arthur, is predicted to continue north along teh Atlantic shore. NOAA image.

The first names hurricane of the season, Arthur, is predicted to continue north along the Atlantic shore. NOAA image.

With the Fourth of July holiday and warm weather upon us, the beach is a popular destination for both tourists and residents of coastal communities. However, in the midst of hurricane season, it could also become one of the most dangerous destinations.

With the first named hurricane of the season, Arthur, making it’s way up the Atlantic Coast, make sure you stay up to date on the latest local weather updates as the holiday weekend progresses.

To keep yourself and loved ones safe this weekend and throughout the summer, here are some crucial tips for beach safety while in the midst of hurricane season:

1. Expect Storm Surge

The greatest potential for loss of life during a hurricane is from the storm surge. Storm surge is basically water that is pushed towards the shore by the hurricane force winds surrounding the storm. Combined with normal tides, this abnormal rise of water can cause flooding in coastal communities.

Since most of the communities along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts lie less than 10 feet above sea level, storm surge can cause catastrophic damage to coastlines. With Hurricane Arthur on its way, the National Hurricane Center has predicted areas to receive up to three feet of storm surge.

If you are traveling to the beach this summer, make sure you become familiar with evacuation routes in the area. Know how to find higher ground. It may not be in your travel plans, but knowing these routes and areas help keep you safe during a hurricane warning.

The National Hurricane Center predicts areas with up to three feet of storm surge as a result of Hurricane Arthur. National Hurricane Center image.

The National Hurricane Center predicts areas with up to three feet of storm surge as a result of Hurricane Arthur. For the most updated information from the National Hurricane Center, click the above image.

For the more information regarding storm surge, visit the  National Hurricane Center’s blog

2. Recognize Rip Currents

Rip currents are extremely powerful, channeled currents of water that flow away from shore. They can happen almost anywhere – even on the Great Lakes. Hurricane force weather conditions intensify the likelihood of these conditions and can cause high waves at local beaches, even if the hurricane is hundreds of miles away.

Clues in the surf may help you spot these currents and keep yourself and others safe. Keep a look out for varying colors of water – water in rip currents tend to appear darker than the surrounding area.

If you do become caught in a rip current – don’t panic! Don’t fight the current – swim parallel to the beach and once out of the current, swim at an angle towards shore.

The best way to stay safe? Swim at a beach where there is a lifeguard on duty. Lifeguards are trained to know the local areas and where rip currents are likely to occur. Pay attention to posted warnings, as they can help inform you of current beach conditions.

You can also check local rip current outlooks for your local beach by visiting the National Weather Service website.

NOAA image.

NOAA image.

3. File a Float Plan

While you should always file a float plan when heading out onto the water, doing so in the midst of hurricane season is especially critical.

No matter what kind of water craft, float plans will allow your family to know where you are headed and when you will return. It also provides crucial information to search and rescue assets, such as a vessel description.

Hurricanes can bring strong winds, heavy seas and changing weather conditions. If you happen to be on the water and need help, a float plan will provide the critical information the Coast Guard needs to assist.

4. Don’t “Ride it Out”

If you live in or travel to coastal communities this summer, be aware that hurricane evacuations are critical to keeping yourself and loved ones safe.

Be aware of the hurricane evacuation routes in your area and, if instructed to evacuate, follow them. Become familiar with various means of transportation in case you are unable to drive.

Many areas along the coastal regions have already been evacuated in preparation for Hurricane Arthur. If you or loved ones are in these regions, ensure you are keeping up to date with local government agencies and evacuation orders.

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