OFF-SHORE WINDS TURN CURRENTS INTO KILLERS
Strong winds from the south and the remnants of an offshore tropical storm have joined forces to create the deadly conditions at area beaches, where seven people are presumed to have drowned over the weekend.
“There’s all kinds of currents right now,” said Dave Samuhel, a meteorologist with AccuWeather.
“People swimming against those currents get totally surprised by it and get worn out. Then they’re so far from shore, they can’t get back.”
Earlier in the week, Tropical Storm Cristobal came up from the coast of North Carolina and headed toward Canada. Although that storm stayed about 250 to 300 miles off the coast, it kicked up vicious waves that pounded New York-area beaches, he said.
“The waves have been running pretty high over the past several days,” said Samuhel. “They’re running as high as 8 feet.”
He said 2- to 3-foot swells are more common this time of year.
At the same time, he said, swimmers are also battling the strong southern winds, particularly at Long Island beaches, which face that direction.
“With the south winds, that just makes it rougher for south-facing beaches like in Long Island,” he said.
Those strong gusts make swimming difficult because the water gets choppier, he said.
“We’re going to lose the south wind [by today], and we should see calmer surf,” said Samuhel.
Seven people are believed to have drowned in beaches in New York City and Long Island over the weekend – including a 10-year-old girl in Coney Island.
Akira Johnson went under while playing with her cousin Saturday afternoon.
Divers continued to search for the missing child yesterday.
By JENNIFER FERMINO