Swell warning NOT tidal wave warning

Yesterday, September 21st, 2016, at 11:14 a.m. Hidrometeorología de ETESA, issued a hydro-meteorological warning for the occurrence of swell on the Pacific Coast. While this report should create awareness and caution among beach goers, it is extremely unlikely that Panama’s Pacific coast will experience anything near a tidal wave, as some have reported.

The warning extends from today, September 22nd, 2016 at 12:01 A.M. until the 24th of September at 11:59 P.M. The warning is calling for waves arriving this morning at 2 - 3 meters high on the entire pacific coast, affected areas include:

Chiriqui, Southern Veraguas, Los Santos, Herrera, the Gulf of Panama, Cocle, Panama Oeste, Panama and the Darien.

According to the report issued the waves Panama’s Pacific coast can expect will have a significant height and “long life” meaning the seconds between waves will be high, making the duration of each wave longer.

Due to a storm surge, increased intensity is expected over the weekend, on the 23rd and 24th of September

The report states that waves of 2 to 3 meters are expected off the coast of Los Santos and Veraguas South. While 1 to 2-meter waves are expected off the coast of Chiriqui, Herrera, Cocle, Panama Oeste, Panama and the Darien. Coronado and the surrounding areas are located in the Panama Oeste region.

ETESA explains that the waves are due to an interaction of weather systems at sea, these weather systems are generating strong winds on the sea surface, producing strong waves and storm surges on the Pacific coasts of South America and Central America. So while you do not need to vacate your beach home and head for the hills, do take precautions.

The following precautions have been recommended by ETESA:
- Be aware of the presence of dangerous currents, rip tides, and tidal drag in beach areas, docks, and bays.
- Respect the warnings given by the local authority Civil Protection authorities, especially when there are restrictions on water recreation.
- Remove or tie down beach furniture, BBQ covers etc.
- Avoid boating or take the necessary precautionary measures of port authorities.

Surfers, if you plan to catch some waves this weekend, be sure to take extra caution. While the conditions look good, high winds and storm warnings can make the water more dangerous. Surf with a buddy, and refresh your knowledge on how to navigate rip tides.

Read the ETESA Report in Spanish