The deadly hurricane risk even when they never hit

Hurricanes that never hit but remain hundreds of miles away are capable of taking people’s lives and the death statistics are growing. The unfortunate cause is sneaker waves.

People can be caught off guard from apparently mellow waves only to be surprised by long intervals of massive wave sets at the coast.

Tropical cyclones can make dangerous waves that spread out thousands of miles away to places in the absence of rain or wind. Dangerous waves can threaten under blue skies as a distance storm passes far offshore and when many people are enjoying the beach.

When these waves break along the coast, they can produce deadly rip currents, pulling even the strongest swimmers away from shore.

And you don’t need to be swimming to be at risk.  In 2009 when Hurricane Bill passed offshore Acadia National Park in Maine, a 7-year-old girl drowned after she, her father, and a 12-year-old girl were swept off a rocky ledge.

The three were part of an early afternoon crowd of thousands who lined the rocky shoreline to watch the crashing waves. About 20 people were swept away, but 17 of them made it back to shore safely.

In total six people died in the United States that year as a direct result of tropical cyclones and all were due to drowning from large waves or strong rip currents.

Hurricane Lee is following the exact track as Bill which will take it roughly 800 miles east of Jacksonville on Thursday. The forecast brings nice sunny beach weather that may draw people to the coast to enjoy a swim.

Surf and rip current fatalities have become an increasing threat, making up about 15% of direct fatalities in the past decade. These fatalities often occur one or two at a time from distant storms hundreds of miles offshore.

Florida, North Carolina, and New Jersey experienced the highest number of TC-related surf and rip current fatalities. Storm surge and wind-related deaths account for 11% and 12% of the direct fatalities, respectively.

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