While the weather has calmed down and sunny skies prevail following the passing of Tropical Storm Idalia, strong rip currents and high surf along the Mid-Atlantic coast are expected to make the water dangerous — even for the strongest swimmers, the Coast Guard warns.
The warning is for all ocean beaches from Duck to Ocracoke.
Even if the surface weather clears and beach conditions look favorable this weekend, rip currents remain a grave danger to recreational beachgoers and boaters, the Coast Guard said in a press release. Ocean swimming is not recommended.
Through Monday, lifeguards are still on duty at Ocracoke’s Day Use Area, locally known as the Lifeguard Beach.
Strongest rip currents often occur a couple hours either side of low tide, which for Ocracoke is at 4:07 p.m. today.
A rip current is a localized current that flows away from the shoreline toward the ocean. Rip currents move perpendicular to shore and can be very strong. A person caught in a rip can be swept away from shore very quickly.
The best way to escape a rip current is by swimming parallel to the shore instead of towards it, since most rip currents are less than 80 feet wide.
The most important thing to remember if you are ever caught in a rip current is not to panic. Continue to breathe, try to keep your head above water, and don’t exhaust yourself fighting against the force of the current.
See more rip current information on the Observer’s rip current page here.