When Hurricane Florence hits the Carolinas, the Atlantic Ocean off Long Island may look like surfing paradise. But be warned.
The National Weather Service said high swells and dangerous rip currents will be the "indirect" impact felt here from the Category 4 hurricane. Winds of 130 to 156 mph will build the surf to 9 to 11 feet high Wednesday night, Thursday and into the weekend, meteorologists said.
“We still have ongoing beach hazards,” said Melissa Di Spigna, a meteorologist at the weather service's Upton office.
A high surf advisory is in effect through 6 p.m. Wednesday and there is a high rip current risk through Wednesday afternoon for ocean beaches off Long Island, the weather service said.
Meteorologists warned of swimming in ocean waters during the Florence threat in the South because many beaches don't have lifeguards after Labor Day.
But people on land, even on the ocean side, won't feel much from Florence, not even a heavy wind that could make them stumble, meteorologists said.
In fact, the 40 percent chance of showers forecast for Wednesday and the slight chance of rain and thunderstorm for Thursday come from a separate weather system, the service said. The high for the rest of the week is in the upper 70s, forecasters said.
Florence — which threatens to inflict great damage to a wide swath of the eastern United States later this week — is expected to drop down on the Carolinas up to the MidAtlantic states some time Thursday. Its speed will slow as it hits land, leading to fears of catastrophic flooding as the hurricane lingers over populated areas. Mandated evacuations have been underway in several areas.
As of 5 p.m. Tuesday, Florence was packing winds of 140 mph and moving at 17 mph toward the Carolinas. The cone of impact for Florence's winds will reach New Jersey but no further north, according to the National Hurricane Center.