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Hazardous Seas Around the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico Expected Throughout the Week

Gusty winds combined with the arrival of a northerly swell will create choppy seas throughout the remainder of the week. The National Weather Service (NWS) has issued marine weather alerts for portions of the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico.

“Breezy to windy conditions and a northerly swell will maintain dangerous marine conditions for small craft, with seas up to 8 to 10 feet, and life-threatening rip current conditions for beachgoers, with breaking waves from 6 to 8 feet throughout the workweek,” according to an update on Tuesday from the NWS in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Wave height forecast for 8 p.m. AST on Wednesday from the National Weather Service in San Juan, Puerto Rico. (Image courtesy NWS in San Juan, Puerto Rico)

The NWS explained that an area of high-pressure building across the western Atlantic would contribute to strong winds out of the east-northeast that are expected to churn up the seas. An incoming northerly swell will further amplify the rough seas, and alerts are in effect for boaters and beachgoers across both U.S. territories.

Several marine weather alerts have been issued for areas of Puerto Rico and the USVI. (Image courtesy NWS in San Juan, Puerto Rico)

A “Small Craft Advisory” will be in effect for areas of the waters surrounding the islands through at least Friday. A “High Rip Current Risk” will also be in effect for portions of the USVI and Puerto Rico until at least Thursday afternoon. The NWS noted that “the western, northern, eastern, and southeastern facing beaches of Puerto Rico, Vieques, Culebra, St. Thomas, St. John, adjacent islands, and St. Croix,” in particular, may have an increased risk of rip currents.

The NWS explained that rip currents “are powerful channels of water flowing quickly away from shore.” Rip currents can be dangerous even for proficient swimmers and understanding rip current safety is crucial.

“If you become caught in a rip current, yell for help. Remain calm, do not exhaust yourself, and stay afloat while waiting for help. If you must swim out of a rip current, swim parallel to shore and back toward the beach when possible. Do not attempt to swim directly against a rip current, as you will tire quickly,” the NWS warned.

Rip current safety graphic. (Photo courtesy NWS)

The NWS said the seas are forecast to calm down slightly next weekend. However, the rip current risk will remain elevated.

“Although some improvement is likely during the upcoming weekend, a moderate risk of rip currents will remain in place,” the NWS cautioned.

Stay Informed

USVI residents and visitors can find additional information about the weather, including severe weather alerts and marine weather updates, from the Virgin Islands Territorial Emergency Management Agency website and the National Weather Service.

A daily weather post is also published on the Source Weather Page, where readers can view weather forecast videos.

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