New Rip Current Forecast Model Could Save Lives This Summer – CBS Boston
MARSHFIELD (CBS) – Thousands of people are heading out to the ocean for relief from the summer heat in New England. Most of us can recognize the potential danger signs of an afternoon thunderstorm or local shark sighting, but many are unaware of what the greatest risk to local swimmers is: a reverse current. .
“We have a lot of people who have no idea of the ocean and its power,” Marchfield Beach administrator Cindy Castro told WBZ-TV.
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A rip current is a narrow channel of fast water that pulls away from the shoe and can move at faster speeds than an Olympic swimmer.
“What we’re looking for is waves breaking on either side and a channel right in the middle, and you’re going to see rollers, which is rough surf, and that’s going to be your indicator that you’ve got a ripple. “, explained Castro.
She said that in Marshfield there are typically three to four low-risk rescues each season. But a few years ago, a man who was renting a property, unaware of the water conditions, was caught in a rip current and died.
“So they’re serious,” Castro said.
Very little information can be provided to lifeguards at this point.
“They’re just the ones who see it and call a supervisor, then warn people to get out of the water,” Castro said.
Eighty percent of lifeguard rescues across the country occur because of backcurrents. It is a common danger that many beachgoers are unaware of.
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“Return currents actually kill more people than tornadoes, lightning or hail in the United States each year,” said National Weather Service meteorologist Byrce Williams.
According to Williams, a new tear up the current forecast model should improve beach safety this summer.
“This model takes into account so many different things, it’s really a big improvement over the lifeguard looking and trying to see it visually,” he said.
Data on wind, waves, tidal cycles and water levels are just a few of the factors behind this new model. It will cover the majority of the East Coast of the United States and the Gulf, including the beaches of New England.
“This model is going to have a resolution of around 1 km, and so a beach that is right next to an adjacent beach a few miles away may have a different forecast,” Williams said.
The ranges will be on a sliding scale of zero to 100 percent probability of a reverse current.
The new model will be able to predict the probability up to six days in advance.
“This is really going to be another upgrade that will save lives,” said Williams.
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“And it’s going to be amazing for us, we’ll find out that morning, we can warn people right away when they get to the beach,” Castro said.