TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) - If you’re headed to the beach over the next two days, be extra careful in the water.
Rip currents and hazardous boating conditions are forecast for Tampa Bay beaches due in part to high winds and moderate surf, according to the National Weather Service. The NWS says wind speeds of 20 to 33 knots will build seas to 4 to 6 feet, creating hazardous boating conditions for small craft operators.
The National Weather Service in Tampa Bay Ruskin has issued a High Rip Current Risk, which is in effect from 7 a.m. Wednesday morning through Thursday morning for Pinellas County, Coastal Hillsborough County, Coastal Manatee County, Coastal Sarasota County, Coastal Charlotte County and Coastal Lee County beaches.
Rip currents are powerful, fast-moving channels of water that flow quickly away from the shore, presenting a hazard to swimmers. They often throw through a low spot or breaks in a sandbar and in the vicinity of structures such as groins, jetties and piers, according to the NWS.
Before you hit the sand, be sure to read warning flags and other beach safety signs posted at the beach’s entrance. If you become caught in a rip current, don’t panic. The NWS says you should remain calm and start swimming parallel to shore. Once you are away from the force of the rip current, start swimming back toward the shore. Do not attempt to swim against a rip current. Even a strong swimmer can become exhausted quickly.