Tropical storm impacting local waters; Horseneck Beach closed

(WPRI) — Despite staying several hundred miles offshore, what was once Hurricane Chris is still impacting our weather here in Southern New England. Swimmers and surfers alike should beware of an increased risk of rip currents. 

The Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation announced late Wednesday afternoon it was closing the day-use area of Horseneck State Reservation due to high surf conditions and the risk of strong rip currents developing. The closure also includes Gooseberry Island.

The DCR said it would evaluate conditions before making a decision about Thursday.

Speaking to Eyewitness News Wednesday night, beachgoers said the surf was noticeably rough but they still didn't understand the decision to close Horseneck Beach early. 

"I think to be able to be here should be our choice," Esta Carnihan, who is camping at Horseneck this week, said. "I've been here a bunch of times and they've always had big waves."

A High Surf Advisory warns individuals that waves may be more than twice average height and a three to six-foot surf is possible. That means there's enough power to drag unsuspecting swimmers out to sea.

WEATHER BLOG: Local impacts of Hurricane Chris »

Steven Duarte of Taunton made the trip to Westport Wednesday night to see the waves. He said closing the beach has spoiled a summer night for many. 

"As long as people stayed out of the water, I think it would be fun because there are great waves coming in," he said. "A lot of families could bring their kids and come see it."

Eyewitness News Chief Meteorologist Tony Petrarca said the swells from Hurricane Chris hit Southern New England Wednesday evening, and there could still be some lingering impacts into Thursday. 

Beachgoers headed to the south coast from Watch Hill to Westport, Block Island, Martha's Vineyard, and Cape Cod will need to be extra cautious swimming and should take care to listen to lifeguards.

Lifeguards say to swim sideways if you feel that pull towards the ocean, then start swimming to shore. They advise not swim against the current because it can easily tire out even the most experienced swimmers.

RESOURCE GUIDE: How to Spot and Survive a Rip Current »

If you're unsure of your swimming abilities, it's better to be on the safe side and stay out of the water. 

The swells from Hurricane Chris are expected to reach the coast Wednesday with impacts lingering into Thursday. 


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