Research & Innovation

Stevens Professor Raises Rip Current Awareness in First Post-Sandy Summer

As summer kicks off, Stevens Research Assistant Professor Jon Miller is once again reminding beach-goers of the dangers of rip currents, especially in the first summer after Hurricane Sandy.

Miller, a coastal processes specialist for the New Jersey Sea Grant Consortium (NJSGC), joined experts from the National Weather Service (NWS) and the United States Lifesaving Association (USLA) in a press conference for news media on Long Beach Island on June 4, 2013 to raise rip current awareness and inform swimmers how to stay safe on New Jersey beaches.

“I think potential for rip currents is stronger this year due to the fact that there is more sand in the system and because more structures are exposed due to all of the beach erosion from Hurricane Sandy,” Miller said.

Miller is a leading expert on the rip currents, the leading cause of death at the Jersey Shore one of nature’s deadliest phenomena. Last year, he partnered with the NJSGC and NWS to develop a novel rip current reporting smartphone app that enhances communication among lifeguards and with the NWS and could help prevent rip current related deaths.

Miller and Stevens Computer Science Professor David Klappholz worked with a team of Stevens Computer Science majors to build a mobile device technology to collect and distribute up-to-the-minute rip current data, such as size, strength and location.

Lifeguards in South Seaside Park, N.J., Sea Girt, N.J., and other New Jersey beach communities have piloted the app, identifying and cataloguing rip current occurrences in real-time and using the app to understand conditions on adjacent beaches. It is also being used by the NWS to inform rip current forecasts, and by the research community to gain greater understanding about the threat of rip currents.

At the press conference, Miller described how the app is refining understanding about where and when rip currents occur and under what conditions they are most prevalent. Miller and the other speakers – Water Drag, a senior meteorologist with the NWS; Don Myers, USLA Long Beach Lifeguard Patrol Supervisor; and Jay Mann, managing editor of The Sandpaper and the NWS surf reporter for Long Beach Island – also spoke about the increased dangers of rip currents due to Hurricane Sandy’s impacts.

The press conference was a follow up to a 2012 rip current awareness press conference, also held during the first week of June, which is officially Rip Current Awareness Week. Last year’s event took place in Asbury Park, N.J.

See full coverage of the June 2013 rip current press conference, as well as the Memorial Day 2013 "State of the Shore" press conference, in the news media at the links below:

NJ 101.5: Rip Currents a Big Threat This Summer in NJ

NBC Channel 40: Beach Patrol officials warn swimmers about the dangers of rip currents

NBC10 Philadelphia: Post-Sandy Rip Currents More Dangerous Than Normal

Press of Atlantic City: Changes from Sandy may cause more rip currents

Asbury Park Press: Swimming at your own risk? Sandbars left by Sandy could lead to more dangerous swimming

Asbury Park Press: Are the Beaches Back to Normal?

The Star-Ledger: 'State of the Shore' Reveals Hurricane Stripped Beaches of Sand, Elevation

Asbury Park Press: Clock is Ticking on Replenishment

Watch Miller's appearance in 2012 discussing the rip current tracek app on The Weather Channel here.