Hurricane

Surf’s up in Miami Beach as Hurricane Florence crosses Atlantic

Surf is up at the South Point Beach from a northern storm in January 2015. Forecasters expect high swells Thursday into Friday from Hurricane Florence.
Surf is up at the South Point Beach from a northern storm in January 2015. Forecasters expect high swells Thursday into Friday from Hurricane Florence. Miami Herald file photo

As Hurricane Florence makes its way across the Atlantic, South Florida will see stronger currents and larger waves Thursday night into Friday morning, according to the National Weather Service.

Other than a surfer paradise, the weather will be pretty typical in the Miami area, with a 20-40 percent chance of storms in the forecast.

As of Wednesday afternoon, Cat 4 Florence was headed toward the Carolina coast, moving at 15 mph. It’s predicted to hit the Carolina coast between Cape Fear and Cape Lookout late on Thursday into Friday, according to the National Weather Service.

Florence is expected to bring winds of up to 130 mph and rainfall of between 20-30 inches, but circumstances can change as it approaches. The storm surge is estimated at 9 to 13 feet and 6 to 9 feet in the surrounding areas.

In South Florida, the only change will be in the size of the waves. Normally one to three feet, waves are expected to swell to four to six feet in Miami-Dade County and five to eight feet in Broward, forecasters say.

Surf teacher Charles Luciano, of the South Beach Surf Club, said ideal surfing conditions are waves 3 to 10 feet. The forthcoming conditions may not be for beginners though, said Luciano, who has taught surfing for 17 years. He said waves of 1 to 2 feet are ideal for the inexperienced.

The only possible hazardous conditions in South Florida will be along the Palm Beach coast, with a storm surge of five to eight feet in the forecast, with a risk of rip currents.

A year ago, South Florida was in the cross-hairs of Hurricane Irma, which hit the Keys and sent tropical-force winds across the mainland. More than 100 people in the Caribbean died, and the storm, with top winds at 185 mph, caused billions of dollars in damage.

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