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Hurricane Jose bringing dangerous surf to NH coast

Union Leader Correspondent

September 18. 2017 9:10PM
Eric Lorenz of Bedford checks out the surf at Hampton Beach Monday as waves begin to build from Hurricane Jose. (Jason Schreiber/Union Leader Correspondent)

Waves crash against the rocks along the seawall at North Beach in Hampton Monday as Hurricane Jose moves closer to New England. (Jason Schreiber)

HAMPTON — Officials are warning of dangerous and potentially life-threatening surf conditions along the New Hampshire coast as Hurricane Jose churns up the Atlantic.

The hurricane, with maximum sustained winds near 75 mph, is forecast to track well offshore south of New England, but forecasters say Jose will still bring big ocean swells.

A high surf advisory was posted for the coast through today, with seas expected to build to 5 to 9 feet. “When you get rough surf you always run the risk of rip currents,” said James Brown, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Gray, Maine.

Hampton Fire Chief Jameson Ayotte said his biggest concern is for swimmers and surfers venturing out into the rough seas. Lifeguards are no longer on duty, having wrapped up their summer season earlier this month.

“There will be people who will inevitably be out surfing, but we recommend against it,” Ayotte said, warning that people in the water “will become a rescue situation if they’re not properly prepared.”

By Monday afternoon, Ayotte said some offshore buoys were already registering 5-foot waves at 16-second intervals.

As Jose gets closer and the big waves combine with high astronomical tides, Ayotte said he expects Hampton will see splashover along the beach and some standing water on roadways in areas prone to coastal flooding.

He advised drivers to avoid any trouble spots.

“Use common sense and stay out of the water. A lot of people want to traverse standing water and you don’t know how deep it is,” Ayotte said.

Eversource said its crews, which assisted with power restoration in Florida after Hurricane Irma, are returning to New Hampshire and will be ready to respond if any power outages occur. Other company employees are on standby.

Several people took a walk in the dense fog along Hampton Beach to check out the waves Monday.

Eric Lorenz of Bedford said he stayed at his timeshare at the beach over the weekend and decided to stay for the rest of the week to keep an eye on the surf. He recalled a time several years ago when he visited the beach during a powerful storm.

“It was something to see,” he said.

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