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Huge waves brought by Hurricane Larry hit South Jersey coast
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Huge waves brought by Hurricane Larry hit South Jersey coast

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Surfers flocked to the beach Friday for the promise of overhead waves powered by Hurricane Larry, passing far off the coast. There were few places where the massive waves were ridable.

OCEAN CITY — Huge waves powered by Hurricane Larry as it passed far off the New Jersey Coast slammed into the Jersey Shore Friday morning.

Multiple surfers were out in the overhead swell, trying to catch rides on the steep, fast-moving waves. Many more struggled to get out but were pushed back to the beach by the towering walls of whitewater.

“That’s not a bad thing,” said Matt Rinck, of Somers Point, who was taking a breather on the beach after surfing most of Friday morning. He grew up surfing in Ocean City.

It’s rare to see waves of this size in the area while the water is still warm, he said.

Lifeguards and weather forecasters warned of dangerous rip currents and waves of up to 9 feet. Some sets Friday appeared larger than that. The National Weather Service in Mount Holly predicted dangerous conditions for swimmers and surfers through Saturday night.

“Life-threatening rip currents are likely for all people entering the surf zone,” the warning reads. “Anyone visiting the beaches should stay out of the surf. Rip currents can sweep even the best swimmers away from shore into deeper water.”

The swell started to build Wednesday and continued through Thursday, with effects likely to be felt through the weekend. The National Weather Service advised inexperienced swimmers to stay out of the water, and said even the most experienced swimmers and surfers should be prepared for extraordinary conditions.

With plenty of notice for the big swell, Rinck said surfers were flocking to the beach.

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“When there’s really big surf in the forecast, people just seem to pop up out of the woodwork,” he said.

Inexperienced surfers were likely to have a difficult time in the waves, which were far more powerful than the usual summer ones. Even good surfers were likely to wipe out, Rinck said.

In most places along the shore, the waves were closing out, meaning the whole face of the wave collapses at once, leaving nowhere for a surfer to ride. Some favorite surf spots were not ridable at the peak of the swell. Along much of the coastline, waves crashed down with intense force, throwing water far into the air.

Several surfers gathered off the jetty at Fifth Street waiting for the biggest sets, as a large crowd lined the Boardwalk rail to watch, cheering when someone caught a ride.

According to the National Hurricane Center, Larry remained a hurricane Friday, transitioning to a post-tropical cyclone. It was expected to bring high winds, storm surge and heavy rain to Newfoundland, Canada.

It also threw waves at most of the East Coast but stayed far enough off the coast that the early September day offered sunny skies, while a steady breeze from the west helped groom the waves.

After a short break, Rinck walked up the beach to paddle out again.

“It’s pumping,” he said.

Contact Bill Barlow:

609-272-7290

bbarlow@pressofac.com

Twitter @jerseynews_bill

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