MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Beach-goers beware. The risk of potentially deadly rip currents along South Florida beaches is on the rise this week thanks to ocean swells from Tropical Storm Leslie.
“Ocean swells from distant Tropical Storm Leslie as well as an area of low pressure in the northern Gulf of Mexico bring a moderate to high rip current risk to some of Florida beaches, which will likely persist through the upcoming weekend,” said FDEM Deputy State Meteorologist Michelle Palmer. “Beachgoers should remember to review the rip current outlook for their area, check the warning flag signs before entering the water and swim within sight of a lifeguard.”
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. Pay especially close attention to children and persons who are elderly when at the beach. Even in shallow water, wave action can cause loss of footing.
Also stay at least 100 feet away from piers and jetties. Permanent rip currents often exist alongside these structures.