September 6, 2021

Large Hurricane Larry Scrapes Bermuda This Week, Dangerous Surf/Rip Currents For U.S.

Larry is a looker. This major hurricane in the central Atlantic Ocean will scrape by Bermuda later this week—possibly bringing squally weather to the island—before approaching Newfoundland next weekend. While the storm won't affect the U.S., dangerous surf and rip currents are likely as Larry's vigorous waves reach the East Coast.

The sculpted cyclone is the third major hurricane of the 2021 Atlantic hurricane season. The National Hurricane Center's Monday morning advisory found the hurricane's maximum sustained winds holding steady around 120 mph.

A ridge of high pressure over the western Atlantic will steer Larry around its outer periphery, bringing the hurricane east of Bermuda on Thursday before allowing it to recurve and head in Newfoundland's general direction next weekend.

Larry is the first hurricane we've had this year that's a stunning, largely guilt-free gawk-fest on satellite imagery.

The hurricane almost resembles a western Pacific typhoon. Hurricane Larry has a huge eye—70 miles wide!—and a near-symmetrical core. These are called annular hurricanes, and I like to refer to them as "all eyewall" because there's not much to the storm but its eye and thick inner core. 

Forecasters expect Larry's portly stature to aid the hurricane in maintaining intensity over the next couple of days. After that, the system will begin to struggle as it enters a more unfavorable environment and picks up speed as it rounds the ridge.

The storm will lose its tropical characteristics at the end of the week and transition into an extratropical cyclone, or the "everyday" type of low-pressure system that's driven by upper-level winds and has fronts at the surface.

Even so, the storm will still have hurricane-strength winds when it passes Newfoundland's Avalon Peninsula on Friday or Saturday. Larry is already a large storm, and systems tend to grow larger as they transition from tropical to extratropical, so there's a decent chance it brings some foul weather to the region if it stays on its predicted track.

The Avalon is home to about half of Newfoundland's population (roughly a quarter of a million people), so the wind and rain could be disruptive even if the center of the storm passes far offshore.


While Hurricane Larry won't come close to hitting the United States, the storm's rough surf will pose a hazard to beaches from Florida to Maine. Life-threatening rip currents are possible this week as Larry's waves reach the U.S.

Rip currents are currents that pull away from the shore. They form as a result of waves hitting the beach head-on, forcing the water to drain straight away from the coast in swift, narrow channels. Rip currents don't pull you under the water—they pull you out and away from land.

A rip current often looks like a calm spot amid a torrent of waves hitting the beach, which makes these hazardous areas alluring to visitors. If you see a curiously calm patch of water between waves, or sea foam swiftly pulling away between waves, don't go in the water, and dissuade others from going in the water as well.

The best way to avoid rip currents is to avoid going in the water when rip currents are a danger. But if you ever find yourself in a rip current, don't panic. Swim parallel to the shore until the current stops pulling you out to sea, then swim back to safety. If you can't swim, or if you don't have the energy to swim, calmly signal for help and tread water until help arrives.

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I graduated from the University of South Alabama in 2014 with a degree in political science and a minor in meteorology. I contribute to The Weather Network as a digital writer, and I've written for Forbes, the Washington Post's Capital Weather Gang, Popular Science, Mental Floss, and Gawker's The Vane. My latest book, The Skies Above, is now available. My first book, The Extreme Weather Survival Manual, arrived in October 2015.