NEW HANOVER COUNTY, NC (WWAY) —Local ocean rescue crews are advising beachgoers to remain cautious near the water this weekend, as swells From Tropical Storm Henri are increasing the rip current risk.
With the strong surf and currents in the area, there were at least 30 ocean rescues on Wrightsville Beach, at least 15 at Kure Beach, and 8 at Carolina Beach.
On Friday, red flags were flying on Wrightsville Beach lifeguard stands, signifying high hazard and increased risks with strong surf and currents.
Tourists visiting the beach said they noticed the water conditions the moment they stepped onto the sand, keeping their guard up when entering the water, thankful for the heavy lifeguard presence.
“Smaller kids, keep your eye on them, and luckily, at least here they’ve got lifeguards everywhere so that helps out a lot,” said Jerek Ammons, beachgoer.
“I have noticed that the lifeguards earlier blew the whistle at them, and had them come back in they were out to far. So the lifeguards are paying attention to them, and making sure they’re safe,” said Mikey Faughn, beachgoer.
One bodysurfer says he, like many others, is looking forward to enjoying the water, but is cautious of rip currents.
“If you don’t want to drown or get swept out to sea, learn how to read rip currents, learn how to read your flags. Pay attention to your lifeguards when they blow their whistle at you, they’ve been blowing all day at surfers and swimmers up against this pier, that’s where you’ll get messed up,” said Colin Nathaniel, bodysurfer.
Wrightsville Beach’s Ocean Rescue Captain Sam Proffitt said they are in constant communication with the National Weather Service, to determine the hazardous conditions in the water.
Proffitt says with the increased risk, beachgoers should avoid the water if they are not strong swimmers.
“If they’re not comfortable swimming, they shouldn’t be getting in. Especially today and through this weekend, and like I said I can’t reiterate enough it’s not worth the risk, but if you do find yourself caught in a rip current, the number one thing is don’t panic, relax. It’s not going to pull you all the way out to sea. It’s probably only going to pull you out a couple of yards, and then you’re going to want to swim parallel to the shore,” said Sam Proffitt, Wrightsville Beach’s Ocean Rescue Captain Sam Proffitt.
Surfers, boogie boarders, and body surfers rushed to the beach to reap the benefits of the strong surf associated with Tropical Storm Henri.
Many could be seen hoping to catch the large breaking waves.
“I’m mostly looking to see where the breakers are, where the rip currents are, you know, what the undertow is doing. you can kind of tell the way the swells are forming and you can see where the water is going out and where its coming in, and where sandbars open up and where channels form where rip currents are,” said Colin Nathaniel.
Wrightsville Beach Ocean Rescue also advises beachgoers to look at the flags located on lifeguard stands to identify the rip current risks for the day.