Rip currents threaten beach goers in Va., N.C.

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) – If you have plans to hit the beach Monday, be aware of a rip current threat.

Red flags are flying at the Virginia Beach Oceanfront, North End, Sandbridge Beach and Croatan beaches and at all beaches in North Carolina’s Outer Banks because of rough waters.

WAVY Meteorologist Jeremy Wheeler said high pressure in the region is bringing persistent northeast winds, which will create a high threat for rip currents at area beaches over the next couple of days. It will also produce some nuisance flooding during high tide.

Photos: Red flags fly along coast

The National Weather Service says area beaches could see wave heights from four to six feet.

Rachel Hibberd, who works at the Virginia Beach Fishing Center and a boat rental company, said the rough conditions have been bad for business.

“What’s not going out: we have jet skis, we have the banana boats, we have the para-sailing, we have the dolphin tour boats, we have the fishing charters, and then we have the private charters as well. Anything that looks fun is not happening right now,” Hibberd said.

She said she has had to break the news to eager visitors.

“They come up ready to go on a jet ski or ready to go para-sailing, and to see their face change is really sad sometimes, but we have to explain to them that you’re not going to have fun if you go out right now because it is way too rough,” Hibberd said. “We’re going to want you to save your money and not pay to get sick or anything like that.”

According to employees at Rudee Inlet Jet Ski and Parasail, the strong surf is costing them at least $10,000 a day.

“As far as the weather is concerned, it’s been horrible. It seems like it’s kind of hurt us the most as far as the storms and the wind. It hasn’t been uncommon for us to cancel trips this summer because of the wind, whereas, past summers, it’s usually been beautiful and sunny,” Hibberd said.

David Dierstein of Virginia Beach Lifesaving Service said lifeguards are asking people to refrain from going in the water beyond their knees or waist.

“Guards are very proactive. They have ATVs and trucks patrolling back and forth to make sure that everybody is staying safe and that there’s no incidents that are going to occur. The rip currents are very dangerous right now and it’s kind of hard to see them,” Dierstein said. “On a normal day, it’d be very easy to point one out, but there’s so much water that’s being pumped in right now that once you get out of the inside break here, the water drops off to about two to eight feet deep and the currents will really pull you out.”

Dierstein said he plans to monitor conditions, but expects the red flags will be necessary for most of the week.

High surf at the Virginia Beach Oceanfront. August 25, 2014. (WAVY/Erin Kelly)
High surf at the Virginia Beach Oceanfront. August 25, 2014. (WAVY/Erin Kelly)
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