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Hazardous Marine Conditions Expected for USVI and Puerto Rico Through End of the Week

Marine weather alerts are in effect for portions of Puerto Rico and the USVI through the end of this week. (Photo courtesy NWS, San Juan, Puerto Rico)

Choppy seas and gusty winds will continue across Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands through the end of this week. Marine weather alerts are currently in effect.

Hazardous marine conditions across the islands have occurred due to a northerly swell and strong winds out of the east-northeast associated with an area of high pressure. The powerful swell and gusty winds have caused large waves, an elevated risk of powerful rip currents, and the potential of minor beach erosion.

A map showing the locations where marine alerts are in effect. (Photo courtesy NWS, San Juan, Puerto Rico)

The National Weather Service (NWS) in San Juan, Puerto Rico, has issued warnings for portions of both U.S. territories. A High Surf Advisory, a Small Craft Advisory, and a High Rip Current Risk will be in effect through at least Friday.

“A northerly swell will continue to result in hazardous marine and coastal conditions for the rest of the week,” according to an update on Wednesday from the NWS. “An increase in winds will induce wind-driven seas, keeping hazardous marine conditions for the rest of the workweek,” the update continued.

Wave heights during the current swell event are forecast to reach up to 12 feet, and marine conditions may be particularly rough across the northern coastlines of Puerto Rico and the USVI.

Wave height forecast for 2 a.m. on Thursday. Seas will continue to be hazardous for the next few days due to a northerly swell and gusty winds. (Photo courtesy NWS, San Juan, Puerto Rico)

“Large breaking waves up to 10-12 feet will likely produce localized beach erosion and dangerous swimming conditions,” the NWS said.

Marine Hazards

Beachgoers are encouraged to understand the dangers of high surf and the possibility of rip currents. Rip currents, which are strong currents of water flowing very quickly away from the shore, can occur without warning and quickly become extremely dangerous and even life-threatening for the most proficient swimmers.

Rip current safety tips. (Photo courtesy NWS)

“Rip currents can sweep even the best swimmers away from shore into deeper water where it becomes difficult to return to safety,” the NWS warned. “High waves can wash over jetties and sweep people and pets onto jagged rocks,” the NWS added.

“If you become caught in a rip current, yell for help. Remain calm, do not exhaust yourself, and stay afloat while waiting for help,” the NWS advised. “If you have to 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 most important factors to remember if caught in a rip current are: 

  • Relax. Rip currents don’t pull you under.
  • A rip current is a natural treadmill that travels an average speed of one to two feet per second but has been measured as fast as eight feet per second — faster than an Olympic swimmer. Trying to swim against a rip current will only use up your energy — energy you need to survive and escape the rip current.
  • Do NOT try to swim directly to shore. Swim along the shoreline until you escape the current’s pull. When free from the pull of the current, swim at an angle away from the current toward shore.
  • If you feel you can’t reach the shore, relax, face the shore, and call or wave for help. Remember: If in doubt, don’t go out!
  • If possible, only swim at beaches with lifeguards.
  • If you choose to swim on beaches without a lifeguard, never swim alone. Take a friend who has a cell phone so that person can call 911 for help.

Stay Informed About the Weather

USVI residents and visitors can locate weather information and obtain alerts, including 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, and a daily weather forecast video is also available to watch.




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