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March Break Hazard: Life-threatening surf for Florida coast

Jaclyn Whittal

Wednesday, March 7, 2018, 12:31 PM - Whether you're starting your March Break travel this week or next, you'll want to read this before you pack on the sunscreen and hit the beach!

Waves up to 9 metres off the coast of Florida were reported Wednesday with a powerful Nor'easter spinning in New England. Large northeast swells will keep open ocean waves elevated to 3-4 metres Wednesday evening, then slowly diminish through the weekend. It's probably best best to stay off the beach if you are visiting the area for with the family if you intend on swimming.

If you intend of surfing – know your risks too: Hazardous conditions will occur at inlets, especially during the outgoing tides. There have been large swells and choppy waters earlier this week near Juniper Inlet. Small craft could be damaged in briefly higher winds and suddenly higher waves. 

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With the enhanced waves we could see the risk of rip currents along the eastern coast of Florida Wednesday, as well. Rip currents are a very dangerous phenomenon and we see deaths annually caused by them. Dangerous surf conditions are expected Wednesday along the Eastern Florida coast from Southern Brevard County-Indian River-St. Lucie-Martin-Coastal Volusia County-Northern Brevard County. The greatest threat for strong rip currents will be from mid to late afternoon during the outgoing tide.

What is a rip current?

Rip currents are powerful channels of water flowing quickly away from shore, which occur most often at low spots or breaks in the sandbar and in the vicinity of structures such as jetties and piers. Heed the advice of lifeguards, beach patrol flags and signs. 

It is advised that you never swim against the rip current back toward the shore but rather swim out and perpendicular to the shore instead.

March Break Forecast

The temperatures will be below seasonal to close out this week with the passing cold front by the Nor'easter. Temperatures will hover in the low 20's for Orlando with Miami slightly warmer into the upper 20's.

Through the weekend we are expecting temps to get above seasonal to start the weekend but watch out as a big temperature drop happens once again next week for the Sunshine State. Many Canadians will be heading down to spend their March Break on the beach at that time. Be sure to check warnings on The Weather Network app before heading to the beach!

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Expect more of the same into next week. Large swells will develop again as another Nor'easter takes shape off the DEL-MAR-VA coastline on Monday into Tuesday. Be sure to check back for updates as we continue to monitor this developing system.

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A High Surf Advisory means that high surf will affect beaches in the advisory area, producing localized beach erosion and dangerous swimming conditions.

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