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Rip current risk increased today in ocean waters along Grand Strand; beaches under red flags

Rip currents most typically form at low spots or breaks in sandbars, and also near structures such as groins, jetties and piers. This warning flag is posted at 2nd Avenue Pier in Myrtle Beach in 2013. Today, forecasters warn ocean swimmers to use caution.
Rip currents most typically form at low spots or breaks in sandbars, and also near structures such as groins, jetties and piers. This warning flag is posted at 2nd Avenue Pier in Myrtle Beach in 2013. Today, forecasters warn ocean swimmers to use caution. cslate@thesunnews.com

Forecasters warn that there is a high risk of rip currents is expected until 8 p.m. Thursday along the coastal waters of Horry and Georgetown counties.

Public safety officials in Horry County, Surfside Beach and Myrtle Beach have posted no swimming flags and ordered people out of the water because of the dangerous rip currents, officials said.

“Due to strong rip currents, beach patrol officers and lifeguards have performed several rescues today,” Myrtle Beach police Lt. Joey Crosby said. “As a result, the beach has been red flagged for the remainder of the day.”

Red flag conditions mean that swimmers should not be in the water until condition improve.

Minor coastal flooding during the evening high tide is also possible, according to forecasters with the National Weather Service in Wilmington, N.C. Officials issued a hazardous weather outlook details the potential for ocean risks.

The surf height is expected to be 2 feet, forecasters said. Low tide is set for 1 p.m. Thursday, and the highest risk of rip currents occur typically two hours before and after low tide.

Rip currents are powerful channels of water flowing quickly away from shore, forecasters said. Ocean swimmers should monitor lifeguard activity and beach patrol flags and signs before getting into the water.

If you are caught in a rip current, do not panic. Swim parallel to shore to get out of the force of the current before trying to swim back to shore, forecasters said.

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