National Weather Service asking for your help to better rip current forecasts

ATLANTIC BEACH, N.C. (WNCT) – The boardwalk is quiet, the volleyball courts are empty, it’s wintertime at North Carolina’s beaches. But at least one group is already thinking summer. The National Weather Service is working on new ways to alert you to dangerous rip currents.

“Some new modeling efforts that we’ve been working on and what that’s going to allow us to do is provide more detailed rip current forecasts for the entire coastline of North Carolina,” said Rich Bandy, meteorologist-in-charge at the National Weather Service in Newport.

And they’re using an online survey to learn how to best get this new information out to you.

“So what they’re gonna see in the survey is different visualization techniques,” explained Bandy. “So we have this new probabilistic rip current model that’s going to allow us to as I mentioned put out more information for an entire coastline where as before, we pretty much were limited to really broad swaths of coastline and text forecasts. The end result is really more awareness of the rip current forecast and we hope that what information we learn from this survey allows us to tailor the way we put that information out.”

It’ll still be a few more months before life guard stands up and down the North Carolina coast are manned again for a new season. But despite the season, any effort to get the word out about the dangers of rip currents is greatly appreciated.

“We have tourists that come down that are very unfamiliar with rip currents and the dangers of them, how to recognize them, how to escape them, said Adam Snyder, fire and rescue chief for the Town of Atlantic Beach. “That causes probably the largest problem for us here at the fire department.”

“Rip currents are something that a lot of people don’t think about when they go to the beach,” added Bandy. “In reality, it’s one of the most deadly weather related phenomenon in Eastern North Carolina.”

In 2016, 10 people died from rip currents on North Carolina beaches. The Weather Service hopes some new insight from the survey will turn the tide.

The survey will be available through June. Click here to take the survey.

The National Weather Service hopes to start testing new rip current forecasts by 2018.


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