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Swimmer, beware. Rip currents possible over Labor Day holiday weekend thanks to Idalia, Franklin

children playing in surf are at risk of Rip Current effects
Andrea Izzotti
Check for rip currents before diving in this weekend.

Federal hurricane experts are warning people to avoid swimming this Labor Day holiday weekend, unless they’ve checked for the risk of rip currents.

National Weather Service Director Ken Graham says rip currents could arise in Georgia, the Carolinas and Florida during and after Idalia and Franklin.

“You know a lot of people are headed to the beaches. Rip currents are a significant threat," said Graham.

"That’s one thing we don’t always really get to focus on a lot. We need to talk about that because with the holiday weekend we could get some folks out there who get in deep trouble with some of the coastal activity on the beaches.” 

If you find yourself stuck in a rip current, swim along the shoreline until you escape the current. When free, swim at an angle away from the current toward shore.

A supermoon and the storm combined are expected to make tides rise even higher than normal when the storm makes landfall.
The average speed of a rip current is 1-2 feet per second, but some have been clocked at 8 feet per second.

If you can’t make it to shore, relax, face the shore and call or wave for help.

Here's how to spot a rip current from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA):

  • A narrow gap of darker, seemingly calmer water flanked by areas of breaking waves and whitewater.
  • A channel of churning/choppy water that is distinct from surrounding water.
  • A difference in water color, such as an area of muddy-appearing water (which occurs from sediment and sand being carried away from the beach).
  • A consistent area of foam or seaweed being carried through the surf.

Click herefor a map outlining your risk as a swimmer this weekend.

Danielle Prieur is a general assignment reporter and fill-in host at WMFE.
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