NEW YORK (WABC)—— As Hurricane Lee rages across the Atlantic Ocean, coastal communities in the tri-state are preparing their beaches for dangerous rip currents and large waves.
While the storm is not expected to make landfall in the area, it could cause hazardous conditions and beach erosion along parts of the East Coast as it moves north.
“Although winds are expected to weaken, keep in mind that the expansion of Lee’s wind field will have impacts far from the center of the storm,” the National Hurricane Center said.
READ ALSO | New Yorkers urged to prepare for possible impacts of Hurricane Lee
Seaside Heights authorities are warning swimmers they will risk a citation if they enter the water at the beach without lifeguards in the coming days.
The temporary policy was prompted by an increase in rescues this week, including the rescue of an 81-year-old Bergen County man in a boogie boarder at a neighboring waterfront park on Tuesday afternoon.
While Seaside Heights will have lifeguards on duty again this weekend, they are anticipating red flags and warning swimmers who ignore lifeguards risk being cited.
A state of emergency has been declared in Southampton as the town prepares for the incoming storm amid fears the Atlantic Ocean could invade Shinnecock Sound.
A section of Dune Road that runs parallel to the ocean has been closed after being flooded yesterday.
On Tuesday, Gov. Kathy Hochul announced the deployment of 50 New York National Guard troops to begin preparations on Long Island.
The Town of Hempstead is also working to shore up beaches and is reminding people to prepare ahead of possible impacts from the storm.
Experts say the area could see waves of up to 15 feet and sustained wind gusts, which could increase the risk of coastal flooding and downed trees. Additionally, a new moon will be in effect from Thursday, which will further stir up the turbulent waves.
Swimming at town beaches is currently prohibited until this weekend.
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New York City
New York City Emergency Management has issued an advisory to New York City communities to increase their preparedness levels for the potential for coastal flooding and hazardous beach conditions on Friday and throughout the weekend due to the impacts of distant Hurricane Lee.
The agency said it strongly urges New Yorkers, especially those who live or operate businesses in coastal areas, to remain vigilant and take prepared actions.
“For New Yorkers in coastal communities, please consider this a reminder to be prepared, especially during hurricane season,” said New York City Emergency Management Commissioner Zach Iscol.
While beaches are closed to swimmers for the season, New York City Parks Commissioners are also reminding surfers to be careful when entering the water over the weekend.
“Even though we are the city’s strongest swimmers, we urge surfers to be aware of the high rip current risk as they experience the aftermath of Hurricane Lee,” said New York City Parks Commissioner Sue Donoghue.
Knowledge about rip currents
Rip currents flowing toward the ocean can quickly pull swimmers away from the shore.
Rip currents typically reach speeds of 1 to 2 feet per second, but some can reach speeds of up to 8 feet per second, which is faster than an Olympic swimmer, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
If you get caught in a rip current, the first step is to flip onto your back and float. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says staying calm and not exhausting yourself from countercurrents is critical to avoiding drowning.
Next, you swim parallel to the sand until you escape the rip current, which is typically less than 80 feet wide, according to NOAA.
Experts add that rip currents are usually strongest at low tide.
According to the American Life Saving Association, you can spot a rip current by: a difference in the color of the water; a line of foam or debris moving offshore; or a narrow strip of darker, calm-looking water between breaking waves.
(ABC News contributed to this report.)
ALSO READ | Hurricane Lee: Latest track, updates
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