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Mass. beachgoers warned of dangerous rip currents

It may look like perfect beach weather, but forecasters are expecting dangerous rip currents to hit the Massachusetts coastline today, posing a deadly risk to even the strongest swimmers.

“The rip current is a stream of water that’s going out to the ocean, and it’s probably 100 to 200 yards long,” said National Weather Service meteorologist Bill Simpson. “If you’re in that, it’ll bring you out to sea, and you can’t fight it. No one can fight it.”

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The weather service warned that 4- to 6-foot waves could splash shorelines until early Tuesday, increasing the risk of rip currents that can carry even the strongest swimmers swiftly and unexpectedly into deeper waters.

“It’s going to hit the outer beaches, any place from the North Shore down,” Simpson said. “The outer Cape and Nantucket are most vulnerable, but it varies by beach.”

Beachgoers in those areas are urged to swim only in guarded areas and to use caution near piers and jetties, where currents tend to be stronger.

If caught in a rip current, authorities say, weak swimmers should swim parallel to the beach until safely out of the current’s pull. Stronger swimmers can allow the current to pull them farther into the ocean, then swim around it, the advisory said.

Catalina Gaitan can be reached at catalina.gaitan@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter at @catalina_gaitan.
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