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'This is what we live for': Surfers hit the waves ahead of Tropical Storm Isaias

Riding the waves before, during or after a tropical storm or hurricane is common practice for lifelong surfers along Florida's coast. But it takes experience.

ST. AUGUSTINE BEACH, Fla. — Leading up to Tropical Storm Isaias, dedicated surfers along the First Coast are hitting the waves to experience the unique ocean conditions. 

"When you've done it, you just are so hooked on it," said long-time St. Augustine Beach resident Steve Meehan. "Surfers just get so hooked to where they surf from the time they're born to the time that they pass."

With the potential for danger, surfing before, during or after a storm is common practice for experienced surfers, but is not recommended for newcomers to the sport. 

"You want to be cautious on what wave you get because usually, you want to stay in one area and find that sweet spot," Meehan said. "But a lot of times you just get caught up in the moving of the water." 

Officials, of course, do not recommend entering the water at all once the effects of a named storm begin to be felt along the coast. But for lifelong surfers, there is not a better time to be in the water.

"You drop in on that thing, you feel like it's a tsunami behind you," said Nocatee resident Jonah Clark. "All that power, the ponies just get released." 

Meehan went out with a group of friends he normally surfs with, setting up a tent and making a day of it Saturday. He said being able to surf in rougher ocean conditions requires cardio training ahead of hurricane season.

"For people who are wanting to get over here and surf, I'm saying keep up with your cardio and endurance," he said.

St. Johns County officials prohibited swimming at the beach as rip currents and extremely high tides are expected, even as Isaias weakens.