Rip current threats remain elevated leading up to 4th of July holiday

Since the start of summer, around a dozen people have been killed due rough seas and high rip current risks. Most of the deaths have been in Florida, where out-of-state vacationers ventured into water that was too rough.

Beachgoers looking to venture into the ocean during the weekend before the Independence Day holiday will encounter calmer seas and less threatening conditions across most coastal areas compared to just a week ago. 

According to the FOX Forecast Center, instead of facing the highest threat of rip currents at most beaches, risks in many areas will drop to moderate levels from the Gulf of Mexico to the mid-Atlantic.

A moderate risk indicates that rip currents are still present and pose dangers, but it does not necessitate lifeguards closing off sections of beaches to swimmers due to hazardous conditions.

However, there's a high risk of rip currents along south-facing beaches on Long Island in New York.


The rip current threat in the Northeast.
(FOX Weather)


Even along Florida’s troubled coastline, where dozens of fatalities have occurred in recent years, beaches are expected to experience a temporary respite from the extreme ocean conditions.

"We have a ridge of high-pressure building over the area, which will lead to a general decrease in winds," stated the National Weather Service office in Tallahassee, Florida.

The office covers forecasts for coastal communities such as Panama City Beach and Mexico Beach, popular tourist destinations during the warmer months.

The easing of the onshore flow, coupled with fewer tropical disturbances around the continental U.S., is reducing the overall threat, though a high rip current risk lingers for Bay and Gulf County State Park and the area's west-facing beaches until Saturday morning.


Current rip current threat
(FOX Weather)


30 people died in 2023 from rip currents

Rip currents are the number one weather-related killer in Florida, leading to more than 30 deaths in 2023 alone.

These hidden threats form when waves break near the shoreline, causing water to pile up and create a narrow, fast-flowing stream that swiftly carries swimmers away from shore, often catching them off guard.

Many inexperienced swimmers run into trouble by attempting to fight against the outgoing force of water instead of swimming parallel to the shoreline.

Most drownings along the state’s beaches are from out-of-state visitors who may not be well versed in the dangers of the ocean.

In 2024, all eight beachside drownings in the state involved individuals from Pennsylvania, Alabama, and Oklahoma.



To alert beachgoers of threats, many lifeguard organizations use colored flags to alert swimmers of the dangers.

A green flag indicates a low threat of hazardous conditions, while a double red flag means the water is closed to the public.

During most events where there has been a fatality due to the surf, lifeguards were flying a single red flag, which means swimming is discouraged due to dangerous conditions.

Due to the calming of the seas and surf, many beaches will likely fly yellow flags in the days leading up to the holiday week. These flags indicate that swimmers should exercise caution and remain vigilant due to potential changes in conditions.