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Weather, ocean conditions force swimmers and surfers out of water on Jax Beach

A relaxing day on the beach turned into a potentially dangerous one Monday afternoon as the rip current grew stronger and storms brewed in the area.

JACKSONVILLE BEACH, Fla. — Dangerous ocean and weather conditions forced people out of the water and off Jacksonville Beach Monday.

A relaxing day on the beach turned into a potentially dangerous one in the afternoon as lightning started to strike within ten miles of the area.

In less than two hours, Jacksonville Beach Ocean Rescue changed flags from yellow to red.

Capt. Rob Emahiser said swimmers can find themselves chest deep in water, not even realizing they’re caught in a rip.

“The rip current pulls you in over your depth where you can stand,” Emahiser said. “One thing is not to panic and to swim parallel to shore. Don’t try to fight against the current because the rip current is more than most swimmers can swim against.”

14-year-old Danny Lashbrook and his friends surfed at the beach for about 45 minutes before deciding to go home.

He said he doesn’t recommend surfing in these conditions unless you’re experienced.

“I would say they were not too big,” Lashbrook said. “Like four feet, like chest-high to knee-high. They’re choppy and they’re breaking pretty hard. All in all, not great waves, but not horrible.”

Emahiser said don’t overestimate your ability or swim alone on days like this and listen to advice from lifeguards.

It’s also city ordinance to be at least 300 feet away from the pier while in the water.

Pay attention to the condition flags,” Emahiser said, “but more importantly, find a lifeguard that’s on duty and swim in front of the lifeguard or very close to the lifeguard. That’ll make it easier for you to hear the instructions the lifeguards are giving.”

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