Hurricane Florence may be hundreds of miles from the New Jersey coast, but Sea Isle City officials are still bracing for what they say could be stronger rip currents and dangerous surf over the next few days.
“We have seven stands operational this weekend,” Sea Isle Beach Patrol Chief Renny Steele said. “As always, regardless of the surf conditions we recommend swimming in front of the lifeguard stand.”
Beaches open Saturday and Sunday with lifeguards on duty are as follows: 40th Street, 51st Street, 59th Street, 64th Street, 75th Street, 81st Street and 86th Street.
But Steele said that could all change, depending on the track of the storm.
“Right now, we are anticipating additional stronger rip currents and surf that could be dangerous, but we will make the determination on the types of procedures used the morning of,” Steele said. “I do expect surf conditions to be affected by Florence. Sometimes you think it will be bad and it is not.”
Sea Isle officials met for their Office of Emergency Management meeting Thursday to go over storm preparations.
While the storm’s threat is focused on the Carolinas, Steele, Police Chief Tom McQuillen and the city’s Public Information Officer Katherine Custer say they are monitoring the storm closely and will make decisions accordingly.
Steele said another storm last weekend caused rough surf and erosion but also included a lot of rain. This storm, as currently predicted, is not expected to create as much rain in the region.
“It has been getting more promising for us on the Jersey coast and not for the other people,” Steele noted. “Even the winds that we thought would hit us are not expected to be as bad or the rain. The surf is our main concern. It only takes one wave to take you out.”
McQuillen said even though city officials are not expecting a significant impact from the storm, they are advising everyone to continue to monitor the weather forecasts.
“We expect late Friday or Saturday morning the beach patrol will update on the surf conditions and protected beaches,” McQuillen said. “We anticipate what happens on today’s forecast could change by Friday. People should just continue to watch the weather forecast and respond how they deem appropriate.”
Custer said officials are hopeful that the weather will not impact the city’s Fall Family Festival, which runs throughout the weekend on the Promenade and in Excursion Park.
“We have been reviewing the weather predictions and listening to what the county emergency management is saying, and we are optimistic that it will be a fun time in Sea Isle,” she said. “But naturally our friends and families in the Carolinas are in our thoughts and prayers.”
Custer also reminded beachgoers to never go in the ocean, unless a lifeguard is present.
“Only swim in front of the lifeguards,” she said. “If you hear a lifeguard’s whistle take a look, he might be whistling at you.”
To find out the most up-to-date information for guarded beaches call the Sea Isle Beach Patrol Headquarters at (609) 263-3655 or visit www.sicbp.com.