Danielle to create rip currents off NC, SC coasts

Myrtle Beach, SC - MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - While Hurricane Danielle lurks about 2,000 miles off the Carolinas coast, she will have an direct impact on the beaches in both states.

The National Weather Service says Danielle will create the threat of rip currents from the Outer Banks to Charleston beginning Friday.

Forecasters say swells from Danielle will reach the coastline by Friday and increase throughout the weekend. They say that will lead to a threat of strong rip currents well into next week.

"Although Hurricane Danielle won't directly affect the East coast, the Carolinas will see distant signs that she's still churning away in the Atlantic as a strong hurricane," said WMBF Storm Team Meteorologist Katy Morgan. "Moderate to high risks of rip currents will be seen up and down the mid-Atlantic both Saturday and Sunday, with swells as high as six feet along the coastline."

Danielle developed a well-defined eye and had maximum sustained winds Thursday near 110 mph. To the east of Danielle is Tropical Storm Earl, which is expected to become a hurricane by early Saturday.

Rip currents form when wind and waves drive large amounts of water towards the shore. The water has to return to sea and as it does, it takes the path of least resistance.

"The water will rush through the opening between two sand bars creating a funnel of water moving out to sea at speeds of 25 mph or more," explained Storm Team Meteorologist Marla Branson.

If caught in a rip current, people should swim along the shoreline. Officials say swimmers should then swim at an angle away from the current toward shore. They warn that swimming directly against a rip current can lead to exhaustion and drowning.

Copyright 2010 WMBF News. All rights reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.