Do hurricanes and tropical storms cause dangerous rip currents at coastal beaches? Yes, Swimmers need to understand that dangerous and strong rip currents can occur about a week before and after one of these storms passes through an area. And, they can happen at beaches spread out over many states.
While this phenomenon happens outside of tropical events, the severity and strength of these currents increases dramatically just before or after a tropical event happens. While it may be obvious to swimmers not to swim during this event, few people understand that rip tides do happen a week or a week and a half before and after.
For many who are not accustomed to swimming in the ocean and who do not understand how weather impacts oceans and beaches, this vulnerability increases dramatically. This further increases risks for young and elderly swimmers.
Coastal Beaches Advisories And Warnings
Thankfully, most county and parish cities and towns along the coast have advanced advisories and warnings in place on beaches to alert swimmers to dangerous conditions.
If you’re visiting a beach community on vacation and you do not have experience swimming in the Atlantic Ocean or Gulf of Mexico, we strongly encourage you to learn about red and yellow flags on beaches which helps warn swimmers about the potential for rip currents.
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However, please understand these events can happen at anytime, even when advisories and warnings are not issued by local county and parish municipalities.
Each hurricane season, it’s estimated that dozens of swimmers drown about a week before and after these types of storms move through a community.
Education On Safe Swimming
- Only swim in lifeguard protected areas.
- Understand that small children and the elderly can be overcome by strong tides in as little as 6 inches of water.
- Carry a flotation device with you when entering the water.
- Always have someone on the beach monitoring you when swimming in the ocean.
- If you feel a strong pull away from the beach, DO NOT attempt to fight against it to get back to the beach. The best way to survive this event is to let the water take you out as far as the current wants to, then swim parallel with the beach until you’re free from the tide. Then, you can make your way back to the beach. Repeat this strategy as needed, or until help arrives.
- Even the strongest and most powerful swimmers are overcome by these types of tides.
- Carry a whistle with you when entering the water and use it if you get in to danger.
- If you see red flags flying on the beach, do not swim under any circumstances. Red flags indicate these currents were or are being visually observed by trained personnel. If you see yellow flags flying on the beach, understand that meteorologists have warned local municipalities about potential weather conditions which makes these types of tides more likely.
- Please understand these tides do happen on calm and sunny days.
If you have any questions about rip currents, or how these dangerous conditions are exacerbated by a hurricane or tropical storm, please use the discussion form below to ask questions.