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St. Augustine surfers catch Arthur's waves Jacob Long, First Coast News

ST. AUGUSTINE BEACH, Fla. -- A looming tropical storm did not stop beach goers early Wednesday morning in St. Johns County.

At approximately 6 a.m., several surfers, sunbathers and fishermen started arriving near the pier in St. Augustine Beach with all their gear in tow.

Weather conditions resembled a traditional summer day in Florida with plenty of sunshine and calm winds. The one difference was the noticeable rise in the surf and breakers, which delighted many early bird surfers.

Jason Brisco and Miguel Larren told First Coast News they woke up before sunrise to make sure they got in the water ahead of Tropical Storm Arthur's anticipated offshore arrival.

The storm is not projected to make landfall along the First Coast, but is the driving force behind high rip current advisories on several area beach fronts.

Brisco said that weighs heavily on his mind since he said he had a friend who has been caught in a rip current before. "Even an Olympic swimmer can't swim against them. You just got to swim to the side and swim in. Can't freak out about it."

Larren's advice is to stick to the sand if you're concerned about the weather. "Definitely stay out of the water if you're not used to anything like this."

Lifeguards generally recommend you swim parallel to the shoreline when you're caught in a rip current before trying to swim back.

In St. Johns County, red flags have been flying high above lifeguard stands as a warning to swimmers that the potential exists right now for strong to moderate rip currents.

So far, first responders are reporting no major incidents. The direct effects of Arthur are not expected to be seen or felt locally until later in the day Wednesday.

As of 9:15 a.m., darker clouds began rolling into the sky above the pier in St. Augustine Beach. Moments later, the wind picked up and light rain started to fall.

The change in the conditions sent almost every beach goer running for their car or shelter. But one longtime resident of the area was headed into the storm.

Robert Acanfrio said he went to school for meteorology and loves seeing first hand what Mother Nature can do.

"Just the excitement of the wind, the rain and the waves and just seeing all those squalls come in, it's exciting. This is what I live for really," he said.

Acanfrio admits he's disappointed Arthur is not packing a stronger punch, but is happy it doesn't appear to be a great safety risk to northeast Florida.

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