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High bacteria levels close North Myrtle Beaches, rip tide warnings sweep Grand Strand

jlee@thesunnews.com

More than a half-dozen North Myrtle Beach areas on Thursday were declared no swim zones by state health officials because of high bacteria levels.

The swimming advisory was issued by the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) for 59th Avenue North, 45th Avenue North, 30th Avenue North, 16th Avenue North, 7th Avenue South, 9th Avenue South and 17th Avenue South.

“High bacteria levels have been detected in these areas of the beach, and swimming is not advised until bacteria levels return to normal," said Sean Torrens of DHEC's Pee Dee environmental affairs office in Myrtle Beach.

“To guard against the possibility of swallowing the water, it's best to keep your head up and out of the water,” Torrens said. “People with open cuts or other wounds should also avoid contact with the water.”

However, it is safe to wade, collect shells and fish within the swimming advisory area, Torrens said.

Pat Dowling, spokesman for North Myrtle Beach, said that many closings is unusual for the area, but they believe the recent heavy rains in the Cherry Grove area caused stormwater ponds to overflow.

Meanwhile, the National Weather Service issued a high rip current risk for the Grand Strand for all day Friday.

The surf is expected to reach heights of four to seven feet. Rip tide or other ocean swimming warnings could be extended through Hurricane Irma’s approach. The storm is expected to hit South Carolina on Monday.

Audrey Hudson: 843-444-1765, @AudreyHudson

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