Lavallette officials have decided, in the face of literally thousands of rescues recorded up and down the east coast over the holiday weekend, to enforce a ban on swimming this week and reopen several beaches over the next two weekends that will be guarded.
“Surf conditions are horrendous right now,” said Mayor Walter LaCicero at a borough council meeting Monday night, referencing dangerous rip currents, a slew of rescues locally, thousands from Maine to Florida and continued rough surf due to offshore storms.
During the week, police officers will be actively on the beach enforcing a ban on swimming due to the conditions.
“There will be a police presence on a daily basis on the east side of the dune,” said Borough Administrator John O. Bennett. “People are welcome to go to the beach, but the water is closed and the police will be enforcing that.”
Further, the borough announced they would – depending on weather conditions – open up four guarded beaches for two extra weekends. The exact beaches that will be opened will be determined on where the water is safest and will be announced closer to the weekend. The beaches will be chosen “at the discretion of the beach captain,” said Councilman Michael Stogdill.
Regardless of weather, some beaches will be open this coming weekend, however the second post-Labor Day weekend will depend on weather.
“The following weekend is going to be a weather-permitting decision,” said Stogdill. “If the weather is foul, the guards won’t be out, but if it’s like this weekend, you’ll see them at those four beaches at their discretion.”
Officials said Lavallette guards were involved in a number of rescues over the holiday weekend, including “a close call” when Haddonfield Avenue guards became aware of a swimmer in distress at a private ocean beach a few blocks north in Toms River. The Lavallette guards were able to rush out to the swimmer in time and bring them to shore unharmed, however they were quickly being pulled out to sea and losing energy.
“Don’t swim in the water without a guard,” said Stogdill. “The rip currents are bad from north of here, all the way down to Florida. Along the east coast, there have been thousands of rescues.”
“It’s tragedies all the way around – unfortunately mother nature is sometimes cruel,” he added.
According to the National Weeather Service, Wednesday will bring a “moderate” risk of rip currents with wave heights in the surf running 2-3 feet. The water temperature is in the lower 70s. Northwest winds will move around 5 m.p.h., becoming southeast in the afternoon.
A “moderate” rip current risk means “life-threatening rip currents are possible in the surf zone,” the NWS said.