National Weather Service United States Department of Commerce

High Surf Hazards

  • Rough surf conditions may result in some localized coastal erosion, and pose a threat to swimmers.
  • High surf conditions may cause significant beach erosion. Surf may breach dunes and seawalls in isolated locations, mainly in historically vulnerable spots. Swimming is not advised.
  • Battering surf conditions will result in major coastal erosion. There is a high potential for surf to breach dunes and seawalls in many locations. Swimming is definitely not advised.
The existing NWS WFO Newport/Morehead City Graphical Hazards have been discontinued due to technical issues.  A new version of these hazards graphics is under development and will be implemented once it has passed an internal testing period.  This will hopefully come in 2016, but we cannot estimate when at this time.  We regret the inconvenience and hope you found the previous version of this webpage and graphics useful.  We hope you will find the new version of this webpage just as useful when it comes online.

General Information

High surf conditions are often the result of strong coastal storm systems that bring high winds and seas to coastal areas. High surf can result from both tropical and non tropical storm systems. The amount of destruction caused by the high surf is dependendant on the strength of the winds and the amount of onshore component they have. Winds blowing directly onshore will build the highest surf and cause the most damage.




High Surf Safety Tips:
  • Rough surf makes swimming very dangerous, and increases the threat of rip currents. During the roughest surf conditions, novice and experienced swimmers alike are urged to stay out of the water.
  • People in oceanfront locations should be prepared for overwash.
  • The most severe high surf conditions can damage oceanfront houses by wiping out foundations. If conditions worsen, be prepared to evacuate oceanfornt houses and seek shelter inland..



Send e-mail with your comments and suggestions to John Cole. 

Updated 4/22/2015