Red flags warn of rough surf at area beaches

Weather hitting coast also causing concerns of erosion in St. Johns County

JACKSONVILLE BEACH, Fla. – If you're headed out to the beaches, be careful. Rough waters brought on by nor'easter conditions are increasing the risk of rip currents.

Red flags are out in St. Johns, Duval and Nassau county beaches. Lifeguards want people to enjoy the waves and have fun but they also want to make sure you stay safe.

"We have a sandbar and then we have sloughs and then it sharply comes up. That's perfect conditions for rip currents to form, especially when the waves are getting bigger," says Volunteer Lifesaving Corps Capt. Jelisse Marrero.

The rip-current warnings didn't keep some surfers out of the water in St. Augustine Beach on Monday.

"It's very choppy, very dangerous, but a lot of fun," said surfer Clyde Hyatt.

All coastal counties are also under a Coastal Flood Advisory. Monday evening's high tide is expected to be the highest, with the best potential for flooding.

The weather hammering the coastline has also caused more erosion concerns in St. Johns County. Ponte Vedra Beach homeowners have considered the addition of a retaining wall because of the considerable erosion in that area, as homes have moved closer to the water over the years.

Millions have been spent to re-nourish the beaches and with storms washing the sand away again, some are questioning whether the money was well sent.

"I love the beach, but I'm not sure about spending the money," said Mark Thibodeau.

Although the wind and rain along the coast may seem tropical in nature, meteorologist emeritus George Winterling explained this weather is not from Tropical Storm Cristobal.

"This morning's rain is caused by a back-door cold front, not tropical storm Cristobal. The tropical storm is now moving away from the Bahamas and will have no effect on Jacksonville weather this week," Winterling said.

Lifeguards aren't always out so they ask swimmers to remember a few things when they're gone:

  • When you do see a lifeguard, ask where the rip currents are so you'll know which areas to avoid.
  • Stay in waist-deep water or less.
  • If you have children, keep them with you wherever you go.

Lee Kermode recently moved here from North Carolina and knows the importance of balancing fun and safety.

"You can be safe out here as long as you don't go too far out," Kermode said. "Pay attention to the flags and lifeguards."

Kermode said it's not hard to get caught in a rip current, but if you stay aware and follow these directions, you'll have a fun and relaxing beach day.

"You can feel the rip currents a little bit," he said. "But we were careful, we didn't go out too far. And we were just careful and had a great time."

The Weather Authority meteorologist Rebecca Barry said nor'easter-like conditions will remain through Tuesday afternoon, with the sun returning in full force on Wednesday.

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