O.C. Beach Patrol Ready for Hurricane Lee’s Dangerous Surf

O.C. Beach Patrol Ready for Hurricane Lee’s Dangerous Surf

Hurricane Lee's projected impacts on the East Coast. (Courtesy of AccuWeather)


The members of the Ocean City Beach Patrol are extremely skilled at keeping swimmers safe and rescuing those who aren’t. This coming weekend is the last for guarded beaches of the season. Staff shortages, coupled with a forecast for life-threatening rip currents from Hurricane Lee, have officials on high alert.

Ocean City Beach Patrol Director Allan Karas said Wednesday that the beach patrol is always prepared for storms, but as in all cases of storms, he urges the public to use caution.

“We just constantly need to remind people to never swim in the ocean unless a lifeguard is present,” he said. “We expect storms this time of the year. We regularly train our guards and EMTs to be ready for the worst possible circumstances, so that when we are faced with challenges like the dangerous ocean that this hurricane is giving us, we don’t have to prepare our staff any differently.”

Cape May County’s Office of Emergency Management issued an alert Wednesday afternoon about the effects of Hurricane Lee and its likely impacts to the shore later this week.

Lifeguards keep watch on a busy beach day in July at 14th Street beach.

Here are some of the warnings as follows:

  • Dangerous surf and life-threatening rip currents are already affecting our region. These will only become more severe through the remainder of the week as the storm moves northward in the western Atlantic. They should start to subside by Sunday.
  • The ocean waters will become increasingly hazardous for small craft starting Wednesday as seas build, with waves possibly exceeding 10 feet by Thursday or Friday.
  • Winds over the ocean and adjacent near-shore regions may approach gale force (gusts to near 40 mph) late Friday into Saturday. Gale warnings may be required for the ocean waters.

With many lifeguards back at school or at their regular full-time jobs, being short-staffed at the same time that there are hazardous ocean conditions means one thing to the guards: keep bathers close to shore or, if warranted, out of the water altogether.

“The challenging thing for us is we are short-staffed in September, like all beach patrols. I am confident, though, my team is prepared, as they always are,” Karas, a retired agent and supervisor at the Drug Enforcement Administration, pointed out. “If conditions warrant, I will close the guarded beaches to protect the bathers and to protect my staff.”  

Ocean City Beach Patrol Director Allan Karas and his team are prepared for all types of weather.

According to the alert from Cape May County, Hurricane Lee’s track will influence any further impacts across the region. That could include stronger winds and rain if the track shifts farther west.

At this time, the odds of tropical storm conditions anywhere in the region remain less than 5 percent, but as the storm is still a couple days away, everyone should closely monitor the progress of the storm, the alert stated.

The Ocean City Beach Patrol guards beaches from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. weekends and holidays and from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays. The last day of guarded beaches is Sunday.

The following beaches are guarded:

  • St. Charles Place
  • 8th Street
  • 9th Street
  • 12th Street
  • 34th Street
  • 58th Street

The Ocean City Beach Patrol strongly urges bathers to swim only at guarded beaches. For questions, email OCBP@ocnj.us or call 609-525-9200.

For the latest information on the hurricane track forecast, visit www.nhc.noaa.gov.