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Coast Guard Warns About Rip Currents In USVI and Puerto Rico Over Thanksgiving

SAN JUAN — The Coast Guard warns mariners, tourists and beachgoers of hazardous weather and sea states that will generate dangerous breaking waves and rip currents around coastal waters of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, including Vieques and Culebra Islands, from Wednesday through the Thanksgiving Holiday weekend.

Most Puerto Rico and USVI beaches are open water beaches without lifeguards, swimmers are urged to exercise caution and follow local advisories and warning signs at their beach for beach closures and rip currents.

Recreational and commercial mariners are advised to put safety first and operate within their vessel’s parameters and not to go out in heavy weather.

“Rip currents and under tow are a significant threat to beachgoers and swimmers in Puerto Rico,” said Cmdr. Beau Powers, Sector San Juan chief of response.  “These hazards have caused multiple drownings of local citizens and tourists this year on the island. If you visit a beach through the weekend, stay away from coastal rocks, if you see red flags on the beach or signs posted that say High Danger (Alto Peligro) — do not go in the water. If you have children, make sure they stay away from the waterline, a strong breaking wave could pull them out to sea.  Pay close attention to warning signs and weather advisories, it could save your life.” 

There current hazardous weather outlook for Puerto Rico and adjacent Atlantic Coastal warns of moderate to high risk of rip currents due to six to 10-foot breaking waves impacting most northern beaches on the island.  National Weather Service Small Craft AdvisoryHazardous Weather Outlook, and Rip Current Statement,for Puerto Rico.

The presence of rip currents along our coasts is another reason people should wear life jackets at all times. People who fall overboard boats or overturn paddle crafts could potentially be affected by rip currents, and wearing a life jacket could help save their lives.

Meanwhile, the National Weather Service says to expect rain Thanksgiving Day and Evening.

Tonight: Showers and thunderstorms expected across PR and USVI. Hazardous marine conditions across the Atlantic waters.

Esta noche: Se esperan aguaceros y tronadas a través de PR y USVI. Condiciones marítimas peligrosas a través de las aguas del Atlántico.


Anyone at a beach in Puerto Rico who witnesses an emergency or distress situation in the water should call the Coast Guard Sector San Juan Command at 787-289-2041 or call 911 as soon as possible.

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The Author

John McCarthy

John McCarthy

John McCarthy is primarily known for his investigative reporting on the U.S. Virgin Islands. A series of reports beginning in the 1990's revealed that there was everything from coliform bacteria to Cryptosporidium in locally-bottled St. Croix drinking water, according to a then-unpublished University of the Virgin Islands sampling. Another report, following Hurricane Hugo in 1989, cited a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) confidential overview that said that over 40 percent of the U.S. Virgin Islands public lives below the poverty line. The Virgin Islands Free Press is the only Caribbean news source to regularly incorporate the findings of U.S. Freedom of Information Act requests. John's articles have appeared in the BVI Beacon, St. Croix Avis, San Juan Star and Virgin Islands Daily News. He is the former news director of WSVI-TV Channel 8 on St. Croix.

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