Looming storm brings rip currents to beaches

NEPTUNE BEACH, Fla. - The tropical storm looming off the coast of Florida is already affecting the beaches. There's rougher than usual surf and a high risk of dangerous rip currents.

Lifeguards say they're on high alert with windy conditions and turbulent waters.

Eleven-year-old Connor Meyer said a rip current pulled him out Monday while he was boogie boarding, and the waves gave him a beating.

"We are trying to keep everybody waist deep," said Capt. Rich Banks, of Neptune Beach Ocean Rescue.

Lifeguards are flying red flags and warning people of the dangers.

"When you have the heat and humidity, the sun, this northeast wind, the increase in the waves and the rip currents, it's kind of like a little perfect storm here," Banks said. "People think just because it's sunny the water is safe. They want to get into it."

Rip currents can sweep even the best of swimmers out and away from the beach.

"I think even if you are a strong swimmer you have to be careful, because you could be out there having fun and get worn out and you can get pulled pretty far out today," surfer Jack Carter said. "So you could be fighting the rip for a little while."

As the Fourth of July festivities approach, lifeguards expect the crowds to pick up this week and the dangers to increase. It's enough reason for some to sit it out.

"Not with that storm brewing, the rip currents, you know," tourist Jordan Richardson said. "I think we will probably just enjoy the sand and enjoy the sun."

If you're caught in a rip current, lifeguards say don't panic, keep calm and swim parallel to shore until you're out of it. They say swim near a lifeguard or with a buddy if possible and if in doubt, just stay out.

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