GFD urges postponement of water-related activities as NWS continues to warn of high surf and rip tides

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Guam Fire Department rescue units are on standby after a 911 call reporting possible distressed swimmers 200 yards out from Bile Bay, Merizo on Sunday. Photo by Josh Tyquiengco

The Guam Fire Department is urging the postponement of water-related activities while there are high surf, rip current, and small craft advisories in effect.

During the past few days, GFD, the U.S. Coast Guard, and HSC-25 have responded to several cases of drownings, distressed swimmers, and other water-related emergencies.

With the warnings that have been issued and disseminated to the public, GFD said that the importance of the postponement of water activities should be considered.

“Unnecessary risks that pose a danger to responders and Good Samaritans alike, should be avoided. The Guam Fire Department offers its sincerest condolences and prayers to the families and friends of the recent victims,” GFD said in a statement.

The National Weather Service (NWS), Guam Weather Forecast Office has advised a large west swell. NWS said broad monsoon winds south of Tropical Storm Krosa will continue to generate dangerous surf along west and north facing reefs through tonight and hazardous surf through Friday night.

A high surf warning is in effect for Guam, Rota, Tinian, and Saipan until through tonight. A high surf advisory will then be in effect Tuesday morning through Friday night for Guam, Rota, Tinian, and Saipan.

Dangerous surf of 13 to 17 feet will persist along west and north facing reefs through tonight before gradually subsiding to hazardous levels of 11 to 14 feet by Tuesday morning. Surf will remain hazardous through at least Friday. NWS is advising the community to avoid venturing out along reefs and beaches as huge pounding waves can knock people unconscious and cause them to drown.

A high risk of rip currents is expected along north, west, and south-facing reefs through Friday night, producing dangerous swimming conditions for swimmers and beachgoers.

NWS issued the following advice: If caught in a rip current, yell for help. Remain calm and stay afloat while waiting for help. If swimming out of a rip current, swim parallel to shore and back toward the beach when possible. Do not attempt to swim directly against a rip current. Rip currents are life-threatening.

A small craft advisory remains in effect for Guam, Rota, Tinian, and Saipan coastal waters through Tuesday night, meaning winds will produce conditions hazardous to operators of small craft. Combined seas of 11 to 14 feet will continue through tonight and winds of 15 to 25 knots will continue today. Inexperienced mariners, especially those operating smaller vessels, should avoid sailing in these conditions.

The Offices of Guam Homeland Security and Civil Defense (GHS/OCD) advise residents and visitors to avoid the ocean until hazardous conditions subside. Heed the advice of lifeguards, beach patrol flags, and signs.

Visit the following links for the latest information:
· NWS Website: https://www.weather.gov/gum/
· NWS Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/NWSGuam/
· GHS/OCD Website: https://ghs.guam.gov/
· GHS/OCD Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/GHSOCD/

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