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Whipping Winds Pose Rip Current Risk At Beaches

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Red warning flags are flying along South Florida's shoreline to warn beachgoers about the high-risk of rip currents. (CBS4)

Red warning flags are flying along South Florida’s shoreline to warn beachgoers about the high-risk of rip currents. (CBS4)

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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – If you’re going to escape the holiday shopping madness by going to the beach, your’re urged to use extreme caution due to dangerous rip currents.

Gusty winds are expected to reach 15 to 20 mph by Sunday afternoon.

State emergency management officials said rip currents are expected along the entire Florida East Coast including South Florida.

A rip current is a narrow powerful current which runs perpendicular to the beach, out into the ocean. These currents may extend 200 to 2,500 feet lengthwise, but they are typically less than 30 feet wide. Rip currents can often move at more than 5 miles per hour or faster.

Guide: How To Escape A Rip Current

Beach goers are urged, whenever possible, to swim at a lifeguard-protected beach. If unsure of what the warning flags mean, ask a lifeguard about the conditions before going in the water.  According to the United States Lifesaving Association, 80 percent of surf beach rescues are attributed to rip currents.

Also stay at least 100 feet away from piers and jetties. Permanent rip currents often exist alongside these structures.

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