As spring breakers and swimmers head out to beaches along the Gulf Coast and Florida, meteorologists are warning about increased threats of currents into the weekend.
A series of mostly dry cold fronts will progress through the region over the next several days, which will help to enhance west to northwest breezes and lead to the choppy waters.
Areas with the highest threat of rip currents will extend from around the Mississippi-Alabama state line eastward into Florida’s Big Bend.
The threat zone includes the beaches in Pensacola, Destin and Panama City in Florida.
Additionally, a moderate to high threat of rip currents is expected to exist along the entire East Coast of the Sunshine State.
Rip currents form when waves break near the shoreline, pile up water and form a narrow stream that flows quickly away from shore, catching swimmers off guard.
These hidden dangers are the number one weather-related killer in Florida.
Data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration shows around 22 lives are lost each year in the state due to rip currents and other rough ocean conditions.
The National Weather Service suggests to beachgoers to always swim near a lifeguard.
If you are caught in a rip current, it is advised you don’t try to swim against the force outgoing water. Instead, swim parallel to the shoreline until out of the current, and then you can safely head back to towards land.