Danger lurks in the surf from Florida to Georgia, Bahamas for the last weekend of summer

Alex Sosnowski

Even though Humberto is speeding away over the Atlantic, stiff breezes and rough seas and surf are forecast to continue and may get worse along part of the southeastern United States coast and in the Bahamas for the last official weekend of summer.

The dangers will increase as the ongoing sunny, hot weather over the South will have thousands of people flocking to area beaches this weekend.

In addition to gusty winds along the Atlantic coast from Florida to Georgia and the exposed north- and east-facing shores of the Bahamas, water will tend to lap along the shoreline in the form of large waves and above-normal tides as well as frequent and strong rip currents.

Bathers and small craft should exercise extreme caution when venturing into unprotected waters. Bathers should avoid venturing out past their knees as rip currents can develop, strengthen and shift without notice.

Bathers that get caught in these rivers of water should not attempt to fight the current, which could lead to exhaustion, but rather focus on staying afloat and/or swimming parallel to shore. Eventually, the rip current will subside and the bather can then swim back to the beach.

Multiple weather features will play a role in the state of seas and surf along the southern part of the Atlantic this weekend, according to Jim Andrews, AccuWeather meteorologist.

"Swells will continue to propagate southwestward from where Humberto once was," Andrews said.

"But the main reason for seas and surf to remain stirred up along part of the southwestern Atlantic coast will have to do with a building area of high pressure near the Carolina coast this weekend," he added.

The clockwise circulation around this high will create stiff east to northeasterly winds over hundreds of miles of the Atlantic Ocean east of Florida and Georgia and northeast of the Bahamas.

"Another player will be swells propagating outward from Hurricane Jerry," Andrews said.

Jerry is currently forecast to take a path just north of the Leeward Islands into Friday night, then northeast of the Bahamas this weekend.

Even though Jerry is forecast to take a path well away from Florida and the Bahamas, swells from it and the circulation around the high pressure area can continue the rough surf into early next week.

With less onshore flow directed toward areas located farther north along the coast this weekend, winds and waves will subside from the Carolinas to the mid-Atlantic and New England.

Depending on the track and strength of Jerry, building swells may trigger another period of rough seas and surf farther north along the Atlantic coast next week.

For people heading to Gulf Coast waters into this weekend, conditions will be more tranquil with Imelda forecast to be well inland and dissipating over the central U.S.

Meanwhile, the same weather pattern is likely to send a plume of tropical moisture westward across the Atlantic and across South Florida and the Keys this weekend.

The downpours may be frequent, heavy and gusty enough to spoil outdoor activities.

Summer officially ends early Monday morning, Sept. 23.

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