Bertha causes dangerous rip currents

JACKSONVILLE, Fl. -- Bertha misses the First Coast but the hurricane is still making an impact.

Dangerous and sometimes even deadly rip currents are a concern at the beach Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.

Bertha is several hundred miles north east of Jacksonville but Rob Emahiser with Jax Beach Ocean Rescue says her affects can be felt in the River City.

"Waves travel a very long way they travel hundreds of miles," said Emahiser. "The conditions can be deceptively calm."

The combination of beautiful skies and seemingly relaxed waves can appear to make for a pleasant beach day. But when storms are brewing things are not always what they seem to be on the surface.

"Anytime there's a storm that gives us bigger waves that's more energy to fuel rip currents," said Emahiser.

That may be a deterrent for some people, but it's also an attraction for daring surfers like Skyler Shields.

"The best waves in Florida are made by the hurricanes, it's the best time to surf," said Shields.

For the past eight years he's been hitting the waves. Shields' fearless ways have calmed down a bit after his own encounter with a rip current.

"Getting in a rip current in Costa Rica in 14-feet surf that was pretty scary," said Shields.

He made it through and says he's now more aware but still can't resist what he would call the perfect storm.

"The swell doesn't last too long so you gotta get out here while you have it," said Shields.

"If you are caught in a rip current remember to stay calm," said Emahiser. "Swim parallel to shore don't try to fight the rip current. Swim diagonally back to shore in the same direction the longshore current is going."

Emahiser says you can expect to see red flags on Jacksonville Beach for the next couple of days and if you're unsure about where and when to swim ask a lifeguard directly.


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