State: Watch out for dangerous rip currents through Saturday

Public urged to stay away from areas where waves are breaking


PROVIDENCE — The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) is advising the public to exercise caution along shoreline areas Thursday afternoon into Saturday due to anticipated rip currents and high surf.

DEM urges saltwater anglers not to get too close to areas where waves are breaking. Slippery rocks are hazardous and even lethal during tropical storms. Onlookers are advised to stay away from rocky coastal areas during storm events.

Tropical Storm Elsa is forecast to pass over southeast New England on Friday, and the National Weather Service has issued a Tropical Storm Warning for the area with tropical storm force winds from Friday morning until Friday afternoon. These weather conditions can be of danger to onlookers and surfcasters standing on rocks along the shoreline in coastal areas such as Beavertail State Park, Black Point and Camp Cronin in Narragansett. 

In addition, increased sea swells of seven to 12 feet could cause difficult navigation for operators of small craft. Very strong winds will cause hazardous seas which could capsize or damage vessels and reduce visibility. Boater owners are encouraged to make sure that their vessels are secured through the storm.

Pockets of heavy rain may occur Thursday night into Friday morning, with the potential for two to four inches of rainfall. Flash flooding may occur, especially in urban areas and areas with poor drainage. A flood watch has been issued from tonight to Friday afternoon. No coastal or storm surge flooding is expected. 

Wind gusts of 15 to 25 mph are expected on Friday, with gusts to 45 mph expected along the southern coast.

DEM is monitoring Tropical Storm Elsa and swimming restrictions — i.e. depth limits to waist or knee deep, or designated swimming areas —will be put into place at state beaches as warranted by the weather conditions. Anyone going to beaches today through Saturday should swim in a protected area where lifeguards are on duty and follow any instructions given by lifeguards. 

For information on DEM programs and initiatives, visit

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