Offshore Hurricane Larry bringing rough surf and dangerous rip currents to southern New England

Officials strongly urge everyone to stay out of the water. Lifeguards are no longer on duty after Labor Day.

By: Tim Studebaker

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PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WLNE) – If warm weather this weekend has you thinking about going for a swim at the beach, you’re going to want to hear this.  As Hurricane Larry passes offshore, we’re expecting rough surf and dangerous rip currents.

DEM Spokesperson Michael Healey says, “We understand the fascination with wave watchers and wanting to see these big waves.  And that’s fine if you’re on the beach, you’re on the sand, but stay away from the surf.”

No lifeguards after Labor Day means nobody will be there to save you if you get caught in a rip current.  A rip current is a fast moving flow of water that can and will carry you away from the shoreline.

James Farrell is the Manager of Little Compton’s town beaches and President of the New England region of the United States Lifesaving Association.  He knows first hand that rip currents are no joke.  Farrell says, “I get far too many teenagers that are like ‘Oh, I’m a good swimmer, I’m a good swimmer.’  Next thing you know, they’re 200 yards offshore going ‘I’m in trouble.'”

Going in the water is highly discouraged these next few days, but it’s always important to know what to do if you’re caught in a rip current.

Farrell says, “The biggest thing is to stay calm.  Save your energy.  Don’t exhaust yourself.”

Officials say swimming against the rip current will tire out even the strongest of swimmers.  Instead, swim parallel to the shore to get out of the current first, then swim back toward the shore.  Additionally, DEM is reminding Rhode Islanders that watching waves from the rocks can also be dangerous if you get too close.

Healey says, “Those waves are powerful.  They can and do pull people out, and people have drowned in our waters because of being too close or climbing on those rocks and getting hit by a wave.”

The dangerous conditions are even keeping an Olympic swimmer out of the water.  Elizabeth Beisel had planned to swim from Matunuck to Block Island Thursday to raise money for cancer research, but she’s rescheduling the swim to a yet-to-be-determined date, likely later this month, for safety reasons.

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