Bertha losing its punch, but may leave rip currents along N.J. Shore

 (Mel Evans/(AP Photo, file)

(Mel Evans/(AP Photo, file)

Bertha has lost its billing as a tropical storm, but swimming up and down the Jersey Shore is expected to remain risky for at least the next day or two.

The storm, downgraded to a post-tropical cyclone Wednesday morning, is rotating in a counter-clockwise direction. That pushes water toward the coast, increasing the height of waves and related swells.

“That’s going to increase the risk of rip currents,” said Valerie Meola, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Mount Holly, New Jersey.

And put beach patrol squads on alert.

“Conditions can change at any time,” said Beach Patrol Chief Rod Aluise, who heads up Atlantic City’s efforts. “It may look like a safe, calm ocean. It may look very inviting, however, a tide change, a wind change, or anything else can turn an ocean very quickly into a dangerous situation.”

Atlantic City beach-goers are allowed to swim, Aluise said, but only in waist-deep water and, hopefully, only when a lifeguard is on duty.

He said his crew rescued nearly 50 people who were being pulled out to sea Tuesday.

If a rip current carries you away, Meola said, don’t try to swim toward the shore. Instead, swim across the rip current.

“If you fight the rip current, you will tire very, very quickly,” she said.

The ocean is expected to gradually calm throughout the week.

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