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Surf Safety Report from Cocoa Beach Fire Chief

The latest forecast track ingested new data from NOAA aircraft, resulting in an eastward shift in Joaquin's track. While Joaquin is not expected to directly impact east central Florida, the secondary impacts of large ocean swells is expected to be significant through the upcoming weekend. Very rough surf, high to extreme rip current threat, and beach erosion will occur through Sunday and could linger into Monday. Maximum impact is expected during the day Saturday with near-shore seas building to 6-9 feet with offshore seas reaching 9-12 feet. High Surf Advisories are not anticipated today as much of the wave energy is being intercepted by the Bahama Bank; however, advisories most likely will be needed by Friday night as Joaquin pushes north of the northern Bahamas and begins to send its swells directly into the east Florida coast with breaking waves between of 5 and 7 feet in the surf zone. Once issued, High Surf Advisories are expected to continue through the upcoming weekend, peaking Saturday at 6-9 feet.
This event will encompass several high tide cycles with repeated beach erosion and run-up to the dune line, resulting in moderate to severe erosion in some locations.  As of this morning, Brevard County Fire/Ocean Rescue has reported significant beach erosion with big channel cuts in some locations; however, Brevard County Natural Resources advises that these will heal on their own as seas subside. Melbourne Beach has experienced waves coming all the way to the dune line; Natural Resources advises that although the elevated sea state and large waves are overtopping the berm at high tide, the water is shallow enough over the wide berm that not much erosion or scour at the toe of the dune has been seen. Local minor coastal flooding will be possible if the dune line is breached, as well as along the Intracoastal waterway as the swells back up and impede discharge of the Indian River at area inlets. Higher water levels will approach older, lower docks and will encroach on yards in historically vulnerable spots.
Brevard County Ocean Rescue will be flying a single red flag through Friday, and will fly double red flags on Saturday and Sunday. The ocean swells are already packing a large amount of energy, and conditions will only worsen through the weekend. Ocean swimming this weekend is ill-advised and should be heavily emphasized. In Brevard County alone, there have been over a dozen ocean rescues, all of them involving surfers with broken leashes, and a surfer suffered a broken leg at Sebastian Inlet yesterday.

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