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Atlantic Beach NC Rip Currents Information, Education, And Warnings

This article on Atlantic Beach NC rip currents warnings, education, and information is NOT a part of Carteret County emergency management or Atlantic Beach official communication. However, we hope that if you are new to the area or visiting the area, you will use the information in this article as a starting point to learn more about rip currents during your stay in the area.

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Additionally, please consider sharing this article on social media sites like Twitter and Facebook so that others can learn, and feel free to join the discussion on the information in this article by using the comment section at the end of this article.

Area Attractions, Interest, And Things To Do

This article will not get in to detail on what a rip current is, except we will say that it is a VERY STRONG current that flows from the sandy beach out to the ocean. Anyone caught in this current will experience a VERY STRONG movement of water pulling anyone caught in it out towards open water.

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Atlantic Beach Red Flag Warnings

If you see red flags anywhere on Atlantic Beach NC, do not go in to the water.

These warnings flags mean that meteorological conditions are highly favorable for these strong currents to be present, or that emergency officials have visually seen life threatening currents active on the beach.

However, please keep in mind that these warning flags will only be posted in lifeguard monitored public beach areas located at Fort Macon State Park and the Atlantic Beach circle.

If you will be swimming in the ocean outside of these areas, you ARE STRONGLY ENCOURAGED to contact local officials to see if there are red flag rip current warnings in the area.

Other Information and Education

  • Rip Currents at Atlantic Beach NC do happen even when red flag warnings are not active. Furthermore, they do happen during sunny days, during days when the ocean is calm, and there are calm winds.
  • If you are visiting our area and not experienced in beach and ocean swimming, we strongly encourage you to swim in lifeguard protected areas.
  • During 2017, 2018, and 2019, there were 20 deaths directly related to strong rip currents. And, many happened on days when there were no warnings.
  • If you are caught in a rip current, it WILL NOT matter how young you are, how strong you are, or how much of an advanced swimmer you area. You ARE going to be controlled by the water.
  • Life threatening currents can be felt in as little as calf deep water where young children are highly susceptible to being affected.


If while swimming in Atlantic Beach NC on any beach, you feel a strong pull of water towards open water, DO NOT attempt to swim to the sandy beach. Your survival at this point is dependent on letting the water take you where it wants to go, treading water to conserve energy and strength, and simply going UNDER (not over) waves as you encounter them.

Once you are in deeper water and no longer feel the strong pull of water, swim diagonally to the beach for 100 yards and then swim back to shore. As you swim in, if you feel more of a pull towards the ocean, tread water and again let it take you where it wants and then swim diagonally again back to shore.

Do Not Panic

While this information and education is hard to remember when caught in a life threatening current (especially if you are not used to beach swimming), it is very common for the public not to panic during this event and forget everything contained in this article.

Even locals who swim in our waters frequently and experience these currents tell us they felt a strong natural tendency to swim back to shore no matter how hard it was.

Hopefully, with repeated education, information, and understanding of these beach conditions, your stay in Atlantic Beach NC will be enjoyable and safe.

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Michael Sharp

Native of Carteret County NC, Father to Makayla and Savannah. You can add me on Facebook. Interest include web development, encryption, and other technologies.

2 thoughts on “Atlantic Beach NC Rip Currents Information, Education, And Warnings

  • May 27, 2019 at 1:06 am

    I was hoping we would have no Memorial Day incidents. I know it is speculation, but does anyone else see a correlation to Hurricane Florence and this years currents being especially strong? To have this many drownings this early in the season is very abnormal. And it’s not just happening in Atlantic Beach, it’s happening in Pine Knoll Shores and Emerald Isle as well.

  • May 26, 2019 at 8:19 pm

    Just saw where on May 26, 2019 (Memorial Day weekend) in Pine Knoll Shores there were 4 people pulled from the water in a water rescue. Three kids and a man who lost his life. This is the official summer tourism season start and we have already lost 6 people? Not to mention there were red flags flying in Pine Knoll Shores today.


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