DEM urges Rhode Islanders to stay safe as Hurricane Teddy passes offshore

Tue, 09/22/2020 - 9:00am

The following message was shared to The Block Island Times from the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management on Monday, Sept. 21:

With Hurricane Teddy expected to pass New England offshore tomorrow, [Tuesday, Sept. 22], the Department of Environmental Management (DEM) is warning Rhode Islanders of the dangerous conditions it will bring to shorelines: winds out of the north at 15 to 25 knots with gusts up to 40 knots, seas of five to eight feet in Rhode Island Sound, Buzzards Bay, and coastal waters, and large breaking waves of seven to 10 feet in the surf zone.

Individual waves, however, may be more than twice the average wave height. DEM urges Rhode Islanders to stay safe by remaining far away from areas where waves might splash over. Waves possess enormous force and can easily sweep a person into the water from what seems to be a safe viewing area.

“By far, the toughest part of a police officer’s job is calling the family members of someone who has just died unexpectedly and breaking the news to them about their loved one. Nothing prepares you for the emotion of that call,” said DEM Division of Law Enforcement Chief Dean Hoxsie. “Tomorrow will bring dangerous conditions – far too dangerous for swimming, surfing, shore fishing, taking your boat out onto the bay, or wave watching on rocks. DEM asks the public to think about the first responders whose lives they might jeopardize by getting too close to breaking waves, and to just stay away. Let’s work together to prevent another needless tragedy.” 

The National Weather Service (NWS) has issued a gale warning for September 22 from 8 AM to 11 PM and an NWS small craft advisory is in effect from 9 AM to 7 PM Tuesday. Strong winds will cause hazardous seas, which could capsize or damage vessels and reduce visibility. In Narragansett Bay, conditions will be hazardous to small craft. Winds will come out of the north at 15 to 20 knots with gusts up to 30 knots and waves of two to three feet are expected.

DEM reminds the public of recent drownings that occurred in dangerous weather: a 14-year-old boy August 30 at Beavertail State Park, a 64-year-old Massachusetts man July 12 at Scarborough State Beach, and a couple who were fishing on a rock too close to rough surf, were swept away by a large wave, and quickly drowned at Fort Wetherill State Park in October 2018.

Follow DEM on Twitter (@RhodeIslandDEM) or Facebook at for more information on boating in Rhode Island as well as other timely updates.