Hurricane Bill Whips Up Waves Along Local Coastlines

By Emma Brown
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, August 22, 2009; 12:56 PM

As Hurricane Bill continues to move north toward New England, larger than normal waves are buffeting beaches in Virginia, Maryland and Delaware.

In the Norfolk region, surf is choppy and building, Chief Petty Officer Daniel Butierries of the U.S. Coast Guard said. Inshore waves Saturday about noon were about 2 to 3 feet, but were expected to build to 6 to 8 feet later in afternoon. Offshore, they could reach 12 to 18 feet.

"Hopefully people have been forewarned," said Butierries.

Much of the mid-Atlantic coast is under small craft and high surf advisories due to the Category 2 hurricane, which was just north of Bermuda at noon, according to Accuweather meteorologist Matt Keefe. The storm is moving north and is predicted to pass offshore the coast of New England late Saturday.

Beaches in New York were closed due to waves and riptides. Further south, the risk of riptides -- or narrow channels of water that flow out to sea -- decreased, said Keefe.

At Ocean City, beaches were open and crowded and lifeguards on duty, said Joseph Theobald, the town's director of emergency services. But swimmers were not allowed in the water unless they are surfers, or have boogie boards and are wearing fins.

"The strong surf is causing riptides, but there have been no problems because of restriction [on going] in the water," Theobald said.

Inland, heavy rain and thunderstorms are expected this afternoon. In many areas the ground is already saturated after Friday's storms, and there is a flash flood watch in effect until this evening for the metropolitan area and outlying counties in Virginia and Maryland.

Boaters on the Chesapeake Bay and Potomac River will likely not see unusual waves or tides, said meteorologist Stephen Konarik of the National Weather Service.

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