PORTSMOUTH, R.I. — The Department of Environmental Management (DEM) advises the public to use caution along shoreline areas this weekend due to anticipated rip currents and high surf generated by Hurricane Florence.
Rhode Island state beaches closed for the season on Labor Day and are not staffed with lifeguards or rangers.
Although Hurricane Florence is projected to remain well offshore of New England, the National Weather Service is forecasting that it will bring large swells and dangerous rip currents to ocean-exposed south-facing shorelines over the next several days. Breakers ranging from 8 feet to 12 feet high are expected in Rhode Island Sound and Block Island Sound.
Storm-generated waves attract onlookers. Some “storm watchers” put themselves in danger by standing too close to the surf on rocks along the shoreline in fishing areas, breakwalls, and breachways. DEM urges Rhode Islanders to stay safe by remaining far away from areas where waves might splash over. Individual waves may be more than twice the average wave height. They possess enormous force and can easily sweep a person into the water from what seems to be a safe viewing area. In addition, swells entering some inlets and harbor entrances could cause difficult navigation for operators of small craft.
The Rhode Island Emergency Management Agency (RIEMA) – which leads the state’s efforts to mitigate, prepare for, respond to, and recover from disasters – advises Rhode Islanders not to go in the water.