Horry County Beach Patrol warns of rip currents as Hurricane Isaias forms

Local News

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WBTW) — As Hurricane Isaias forms, Horry County Beach Patrol is preparing for strong rip currents and warns beach visitors to be careful this weekend.

Beach Safety Director Duke Brown said, “There’s a lot of concern about rip current activity along shore currents.”

“Over the next few days with this storm coming in, the conditions are going to get rougher obviously. It would be best to not go past your knees or not even go into the surf until it gets a lot calmer,” said Brown.

Officer Brown said that August is rip current season, to begin with, and these tropical storms add more chances for them to develop.

“What happens is people try and fight the rip, try and come back in, they’ll swallow water, become exhausted, end up passing out, end up having to be rescued or become a drowning statistic and we don’t want that,” said Brown.

Officer Brown said that can be prevented by detecting a rip current before going in the water.

“If a rip develops you got to be aware of it, when these waves break they rush up on the beach, a current amount of water will recede back but with all the water coming in and going out, all that water cant go out in one time so it goes parallel down the beach to find the path of least resistance,” said Brown.

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, a rip current will look like a break in the incoming wave pattern, a difference in watercolor, a channel of choppy water, or a line of foam or debris will form.

Image courtesy of NOAA

Brown said because of Hurricane Isasis, “it may be harder to recognize because we are going to see a lot of chaotic activity in the surf line.” 

If you do find yourself in a rip current, Brown says don’t fight it and instead go with it.

“If you’re not a strong swimmer, you can relax, wave for assistance or if you are a strong swimmer, swim parallel with the current over to an area where the waves are breaking near a sandbar and come in,” said Brown.

Officer Brown said if you’re unsure of what a rip current looks like, to ask the lifeguard.

“Best to check with the lifeguards make sure it is safe for you to even venture out, if it looks rough, it’s probably not a good day to go out into the water,” said Brown.

Image courtesy of City of Myrtle Beach

Officer Brown said also to be aware of the flags near the lifeguard stations.

Officer Brown also mentioned an area where rip currents are more present. “Also don’t go around piers, they have the tendency to have rip developments around piers or any structures in the water,” said Brown.

Officer Brown also warned of the possibility of rip currents after Hurricane Isaias passes.

“Once the storm passes us, the wind will shift, we’ll see more of a North and South push, with longshore currents where that will move sand around too so where you’re standing on the day before, may not be in the same place, maybe deeper,” said Brown.

Image courtesy of NOAA

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