Swimmers and boaters be warned: Hurricane Franklin is causing dangerous rip currents on the southern coast and midcoast of Maine.
The National Weather Service issued a warning for high rip current risk until Thursday evening in coastal York, Sagadahoc, Lincoln, Knox, Waldo and Cumberland counties. Rip currents are strong currents that pull water away from the shore, and in some cases, pull swimmers out to sea.
Hurricane Franklin, currently passing near North Carolina, is causing the rip currents all the way up in the Gulf of Maine by creating swells of waves full of energy, said Jon Palmer, a meteorologist with the NWS station in Gray. Since the waves are full of energy, the periods between the waves grow longer, which can cause dangerous rip currents. Even inlets that seem calm can experience rip currents, Palmer said.
These energetic waves can also cause sneaker waves, according to the U.S. Coast Guard station in Portland. Sneaker waves are unusually large waves that can pose a danger to people on the shoreline.
When there are waves, there could be rip currents, Palmer said, but high risk rip currents are more rare. To stay safe, Palmer said to either wait to swim until the risk is lower or swim on a beach with a lifeguard. The U.S. Coast Guard station in Portland said to wear a life jacket and stay away from rocky outcrops exposed to ocean waves.
“Generally, if there’s a risk of stronger rip currents, you really don’t wanna be swimming out there,” Palmer said.
If caught in a rip current, Palmer said to not swim against the current. Instead, swim parallel to the shore to escape it. If unable to escape, face the shore, wave and call for help.