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Surf’s up! Tropical Storm Gert churns up rip current risks

How to survive if you get caught in a rip current

Rip currents are powerful, narrow channels of fast-moving water. Rip currents account for 80% of beach rescues, and can be dangerous or deadly if you don't know what to do. This video from NOAA Ocean Today shows you how to break the grip of the ri
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Rip currents are powerful, narrow channels of fast-moving water. Rip currents account for 80% of beach rescues, and can be dangerous or deadly if you don't know what to do. This video from NOAA Ocean Today shows you how to break the grip of the ri

Tropical Storm Gert is predicted to churn up elevated rip currents along the coast Tuesday as it passes by the Grand Strand before a forecasted turn to the east and out to sea.

The National Weather Service office in Wilmington, N.C., issued a high rip current risk from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday.

Swells from Tropical Storm Gert are predicted to produce strong rip currents Tuesday and surf heights ranging up to four to five feet on all area beaches, according to the NWS .

Little else is expected from Gert in Horry County where, forecasters say, heat and humidity will rule this week.

Highs in the 90s will feel more like the low 100s, predicted each afternoon through Friday, according to NWS meteorologist Josh Weiss. “Continued showers and thunderstorms (are) likely through mid-week with very heavy rainfall and localized flooding possible.”

Weiss says parts of the area could get as much as three inches of rain as a pocket of Gulf moisture lumbers into the region Tuesday through mid-week, increasing the risk of scattered thunderstorms and heavy rain.

Beach-goers are advised to swim near a lifeguard on Tuesday as Gert’s influence will likely raise the risk of rip currents.

“Rip currents are powerful channels of water flowing quickly away from shore, which occur most often at low spots or breaks in the sandbar and in the vicinity of structures,” according to a NWS alert. “If you become caught in a rip current, yell for help, remain calm, do not exhaust yourself and stay afloat while waiting for help.”

“If you have to swim out of a rip current, swim parallel to shore and back toward the beach when possible,” the NWS alert advises.

Trying to swim directly against a rip current back to shore will quicken fatigue and can make matters worse.

“Remember to heed the advice of the local beach patrol and flag warning systems,” Weiss advised in his weekly briefing.

Yellow flags are flown to indicate medium hazards of moderate surf or currents. Red flags indicate high hazards of strong currents.

WHAT THE FLAG COLORS MEAN

According to North Myrtle Beach Public Safety

Double red flag with a no swimming emblem - means the water is closed to the public

Single red flag - high hazard, high surf and/or strong currents; not advised to go more than waist-deep

Yellow flag - medium hazard, moderate surf and/or currents

Green flag - low hazard, calm conditions, exercise caution

Purple flag - dangerous marine life

An absence of flags does not assure safe waters.

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