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Leslie could bring 10-foot waves early next week

Posted by dinouye  September 7, 2012 11:51 AM

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Hurricane Leslie will pass several hundred miles offshore, but Bay State beachgoers will still feel her effects.

The storm will produce high seas and strong currents, and Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency officials warned swimmers and boaters to take caution in the water.

Data collection buoys off of Massachusetts shores are being smacked with large swells right now, and big waves will hit the beaches early next week, according to National Weather Service meteorologist Charlie Foley.

“The impact isn’t going to be until Monday or Tuesday, but even now offshore there are some good waves, eight, nine, or ten feet,” Foley said.

Waves hitting the beaches today are expected to be four to six feet high, but they could be closer to 10 feet high by the start of next week, Foley said.

Foley said Hurricane Leslie will pass near Bermuda, stay offshore while passing New England, and might hit land in Labrador, Newfoundland. Leslie is currently a Category 1 hurricane, with winds near 75 miles per hour, the minimum speed required for hurricane classification.

“It’ll probably strengthen a little bit, but I don’t know if it will get to a Category 2,” Foley said.

Hurricane Michael is about 900 miles west-southwest of the Azores, a group of volcanic islands in the Atlantic Ocean. The storm is moving north at only three miles per hour and is currently a Category 2 hurricane, with winds near 105 miles per hour, Foley said.

He said Hurricane Michael won’t get close to the state’s shores, either, but will contribute to the rough seas.

“Even though they’re well offshore ... the effects that we’ll see are the waves and the high surf,” he said. “It’s making like a jacuzzi of the Atlantic Ocean.”

Foley said the monster waves could cause beach erosion at locations well-known for the problem, including Plum Island on the North Shore and Chatham on Cape Cod. He also warned against rip tides, but noted that now that school has begun, fewer families are probably at the beach.

“The water is still warm, so I don’t suppose it’s out of the question that people would still be in the water, but probably not as many as if it had happened just before Labor Day,” Foley said.

Emergency management agency officials said waves could be 12 feet high or larger, and urged swimmers to enter the water with a buddy on a guarded beach.

Swimmers caught in a rip current should swim parallel to the beach, rather than trying to fight the tide, officials said in a statement.

Melissa Werthmann can be reached at melissa.werthmann@globe.com

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