PEMBROKE PARK, Fla. – Florida has some of the most accessible coastline of any state in the country and the warm weather mixed with soft sandy beaches makes those blue ocean waters ever so inviting.
But lurking beneath that shimmering surface is an unseen risk: rip currents.
”Every year we have about 100 drownings in the U.S. due to rip currents so they’re a huge issue for public safety,” said Greg Dusek, a senior scientist at NOAA’s National Ocean Service.
Rip currents are affected by how waves break along the shore, which is often caused by the shape of the ocean bottom.
Sandbars, jetties, and piers can also cause rip currents.
No matter what the source they can develop suddenly, even in seemingly calm conditions.
”Waves break differently along the beach and those cause what are called transient rips which can come and go on the order of minutes,” Dusek said.
Dusek has been instrumental in creating rip current risk prediction model which was recently rolled out on a national level.
”And the model works by relying on computer models of the waves and the tides and water levels and it takes that information then calculates the rip current risk from zero to 100%,” Dusek said.
Data from the model is sent to local weather offices which can then be used in the Local 10 Weather Authority forecasts as another tool to keep you safe while you’re having fun in the sun.
Rip currents can emerge, and disappear, on a moment’s notice so when you’re in the water keep an eye on the shore line.
Also, it’s wise to stay close to lifeguard stations.