ISLE OF PALMS, S.C. (WCBD) – Rip currents will pose a threat along the South Carolina coast over the next few days as Tropical Storm Henri tracks toward New England.
Henri is out at sea in the Atlantic Ocean and heading west, but is expected to make a turn toward the north and approach New England this weekend – it could strengthen into a hurricane by Saturday.
The National Weather Service says swells generated from Henri arrived along the beaches, creating a moderate risk for rip currents at all beaches along the South Carolina coast.
“Always swim near a lifeguard and remember to heed the advice of the local beach patrol and flag warning systems,” said officials with the National Weather Service.
What you need to know about spotting rip currents
Rip currents are fast-moving channels of water flowing away from the shore. They form when waves break near the shoreline, piling up water between the breaking waves and the beach.
“One of the ways this water returns to the sea is to form a rip current, a narrow stream of moving water,” according to NWS forecasters.
Usually, the water moves at about 1-2 feet per second, but can be as fast as 8 feet per second.
Officials with the National Weather Service say signs that a rip current is present are subtle and can be difficult for the average beachgoer to identify.
You can look for differences in watercolor, water motion, and incoming wave shape or breaking point when compared to nearby areas.
Some clues to look for:
- Channel of churning, choppy water
- Area having a notable difference in water color
- Line of foam, seaweed, or debris moving steadily seaward
- Break in the incoming wave pattern
If you find yourself in a rip current, remember to stay calm and try not to fight the current. “Think like a treadmill you can’t turn off,” experts said. “You want to step to the side of it.”
Swim across the current in a direction following the shoreline. When you’re out of the current, swim and angle yourself away from the current and towards the shore.
If trouble persists, experts say you should attempt to float or calmly tread water. Rip current strength typically subsides offshore.