Irma and Jose put Jersey Shore at high rip current risk
TRENTON — New Jersey is feeling the effects of hurricanes Irma and Jose in the form of high rip currents.
As the "second season" begins along the Jersey Shore, the Category 4 hurricanes are causing swells of 4-5 feet all along east coast that will last into next week.
"Waves can travel hundreds of miles and although hurricanes Irma and Jose are nowhere near us, we are still impacted in the water with these waves," spokesman Brian Devlin of the Harvey Cedars Beach Patrol said. "The swell is about 3-5 feet with some larger sets rolling in. They are powerful waves, crashing quite hard."
Swimmers are advised to stay out of the water and red flags will be flying at guarded beaches.
Many beaches do not have lifeguards on duty after Labor Day, including Belmar, Bradley Beach and Island Beach State Park. Devlin advises swimmers and surfers to resist the temptation to swim at an unguarded beach.
"All of the drowning deaths this summer make that point and people needing to be saved puts rescuers and other members of the public jumping in to rescue in harm's way. If you must go swimming, do not go alone, understand the conditions in the area of water you are entering, and know how to escape a rip current," Devlin said.
Two beaches on Harvey Cedars on Long Beach Island — Middlesex Avenue and 80th Street — are guarded this weekend but they are also looking out for their other beaches with mobile units on ATVs and trucks, according to Devlin.
North Wildwood Mayor Patrick Rosenello said his city's beaches are under limited guard.
"The ocean is very rough and we would urge people to only enter the water in front of a lifeguard," he said.
Good Samaritans helped pull two girls from the rough surf in Bradley Beach on Tuesday. Ocean Grove lifeguards reported 15 emergency rescues on the same day.
Members of the state Office of Emergency Management's Task Force One reached Eglin Air Force Base on the Florida Panhandle Saturday around 5:45 a.m to await their mission assignment.
"Depending on how the storm intensifies and how it develops they could be moved to any location," said spokeswoman Laura Connolly, who said the TF-1's specialty is swift water search and rescue.
"Other states have specialties like hazardous material, or the western teams are trained in wildfire. But New Jersey is very highly skilled, very highly trained in swift water rescue. That's not only from training but our experience especially in the coastal areas," Connolly said.
Another water rescue team is on standby in New Jersey if they are needed.
Gov. Chris Christie on Twitter said New Jersey Army and Air National Guard is sending two UH-60 Black Hawks, one UH-72 helicopter and crew to South Carolina to assist with their recovery from Irma.
However, New Jersey Air National Guard spokesman Kryn P. Westhoven said the mission, which involved search-and-rescue experts scheduled to leave from Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst on Sunday, had been cancelled after South Carolina rescinded their request for assistance.
Some of the soldiers had come back earlier in the week from Texas.
Hurricane Irma's outer bands blew into the southern part of Florida on a predicted path for landfall Sunday southwest of the heavily populated Miami metro area. The enormous storm weakened slightly to Category 4 on Saturday with maximum sustained winds of 130 mph, but it was expected to pick up strength again as it heads toward Tampa. The entire state is expected to feel the storm's effects.
New Jersey should get showers and feel winds gusting to 30 mph on Monday night and Tuesday as a piece of the storm moves east toward New Jersey, according to the National Weather Service.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Are you, your friends or anyone in your family affected by Irma? Contact reporter Dan Alexander at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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