A high risk of dangerous rip currents is in effect from Thursday morning through Sunday afternoon due to the track of Tropical Storm Barry to the south. Residents and visitors are warned that even if the skies are clear, the surf will be dangerous for all levels of swimmers. A potential for locally heavy rains also exists due to the storm system and motorists are reminded to "turn around, don't drown" when encountering flooded roadways.
Rip currents, on average, kill more people in Florida than hurricanes, tornadoes and lightning combined (FloridaDisaster.org Severe Weather Awareness). As of June 23, there have been 12 rip current deaths in Florida; four in Panama City Beach and three in Destin (National Weather Service Surf Zone Fatalities). Rip currents do not pull people under the water – they pull people away from shore. Drowning deaths occur when swimmers are pulled offshore and unable to keep themselves afloat or swim back to the beach.
Rip current safety tips:
- Always swim near a lifeguard.
- If caught in a rip current, remain calm.
- Don't fight the current.
- Swim in a direction following the shoreline.
- If unable to escape, face the shore and call or wave for help.
- If tired, float or tread water until out of the rip current.
For the most recent surf conditions and rip current forecast, visit Santa Rosa County's website at www.santarosa.fl.gov and check the current surf conditions box in the lower right corner of the page or visit the National Weather Service Mobile/Pensacola Office's site and click the Rip Current forecast tab.