MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Whipping winds along the coastline will create the potential for deadly rip currents at the beach over the next day or so.
State emergency management officials said strong and persistent onshore winds may create ocean swells, rough surf and dangerous rip currents from Palm Beach County south through Miami-Dade County.
“Strong south to southeasterly winds ahead of the approaching cold front will result in rough ocean conditions, steady onshore winds, and hazardous rip currents today along the Gold Coast and portions of the Emerald Coast,” said Deputy State Meteorologist Michelle Palmer. “It’s important to check the beach warning flags before entering the water and to swim within sight of a lifeguard whenever possible.”
Those traveling to the beach should stay out of the water where red flags are flying.
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.
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.