Beach shows effects of tropical storm

Swimmers warned of dangerous conditions

Many remained clear of the water as rip currents were a big concern.
Many remained clear of the water as rip currents were a big concern.

JACKSONVILLE BEACH, Fla. – Tropical Storm Alberto may be a ways off the coast of northeast Florida, but its effects are being felt here.

Lifeguards say beach conditions are very dangerous and there are extra rip currents.

The storm is churning the water a good bit, enough for lifeguards to put up their red warning flags and ask swimmers to be careful.

"Looks a little dangerous out there today, so I wouldn't want to go too far," beachgoer Carol Hicks said.

Hicks went to enjoy the beach Monday, but when she saw what Alberto was bringing in, she decided she was not going in the water.

"I've actually been caught in one of those undercurrents before, so I'm extra careful because I almost drowned," Hicks said.

With the storm out in the Atlantic, the effects are evident.

"It is a little out of character, off season for us, but our guys are well prepared for it," said Lt. Taylor Anderson, of Jax Beach Ocean Rescue. "We have extra equipment and a full staff this weekend."

Lifeguards said they're keeping a close eye on people in the water because the system is bringing in strong, potentially fatal rip currents.

"It's extra foamy and you can actually see the discoloration of the water as it pulls back on the beach and goes past that sandbar," Anderson said as he described one.

In addition to rip currents, which flow out into the ocean, lifeguards said they're also worried about side currents, which run north and south.

They can take someone into the pier or away from their friends and family, which could be dangerous.

"I worry all the time at the beach, but yes, more today than usual," beachgoer Paula White said.

White was extra careful Monday with her three children and has been teaching them beach safety.

"To stay very close, not to leave past their knees," she said of what she was telling her kids.

"We haven't had to get anyone out so far," Anderson said. "Our lifeguards, we train them to be proactive. A good lifeguard is a dry lifeguard. We have had a lot of whistle blowing and keeping people clear of the dangerous areas."

Swimmers should always swim near a lifeguard and with a buddy, and those who still aren't not confident should swim at all, rescuers say.

Those caught in a rip current should not fight it but swim parallel to the shore until getting out of it.