EMERALD ISLE, N.C. (WNCT) — While Hurricane Lee isn’t expected to hit the Carolinas, the strong storm is expected to stir up the waters in the Atlantic Ocean.
The rip current in these waters grows stronger with hurricanes, even storms way offshore, and you may not be able to see it. This can pose a danger to beachgoers on the tail end of the summer season.
The Emerald Isle Fire Department oversees lifeguards at the beach. To get ahead of the storm they have already put up 30 red flags at their sites. This means that nobody should swim in the water to the shoreline, they can get trapped between sandbars.
“There is where the creation of a rip current happens, and so the water must find its way back out to the open ocean, so when that does happen, it’s almost like opening up a drain. That rip current then becomes the funnel for all that water pressure that has built up,” said William Matthias, Emerald Isle Fire Department chief.
These waters can be dangerous, especially if you can’t swim or if there are strong rip currents. Just last week, four people drowned along North Carolina’s coast. Matthias added that if you find yourself in a rip current, don’t panic. Wave your arms for help and if you are able to swim, then swim parallel to the shoreline, then swim back to shore at a 45-degree angle.
If there is a red flag, don’t swim in those waters. If you are unsure, call the coastal police or fire department to find out local conditions.