Rip currents likely through the weekend

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A high risk of strong rip currents on the ocean beaches of Long Island remains likely through Monday, the National Weather Service said Friday, as a tropical storm churns up waters in the North Atlantic.

Leslie, which forecasters said had weakened from a Category 1 hurricane to a tropical storm as it stalled over the open Atlantic on Friday, will be generating waves up and down the East Coast for several days, the weather service said. Significant beach erosion also is likely, the statement said.

The conditions also mean swimming is restricted at three Long Island state parks on the Atlantic Ocean, state officials said Friday.

"Wading up to the waist" is authorized at Jones Beach State Park and Robert Moses State Park, the state Department of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation said. Swimming had been banned altogether at both parks earlier in the week because of the effects of Leslie.

Swimming is prohibited at Hither Hills State Park, but the park is open to patrons, officials said."Due to the slow movement of this storm we are unsure as to when swimming will be reauthorized," at the three parks, the parks department said in a news release.

The parks are scheduled to be available to swimmers until Sept. 16. Sunken Meadow State Park on the North Shore remains open to swimmers.

If caught in a rip current, the agency urges swimmers to:

* Remain calm to conserve energy and think clearly.

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* Never fight against the current.

* Think of it like a treadmill that cannot be turned off and that you need to step to the side of.

* Swim out of the current in a direction following the shoreline. When out of the current, swim at an angle -- away from the current -- toward shore.

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* If you are unable to swim out of the rip current, float or calmly tread water. When out of the current, swim toward shore.

* If you are still unable to reach shore, draw attention to yourself by waving your arm and yelling for help.

Gary Dymski with AP

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