Hurricane Lee is churning in the Atlantic and creating dangerous high surf and rip current conditions along much of the East Coast, particularly on Florida beaches.
As of Aug. 31, the National Weather Service reported about 75 deaths have occurred in the surf zone of American beaches, with more than 30 of those deaths being caused by rip currents in Florida.
This week, most of Florida’s beaches are under high alert due to the hazardous conditions created by Lee in hopes of preventing further tragedies as the summer season wraps up.
A number of factors are at play when it comes to swimmers finding themselves in danger of rip currents. According to Capt. A.J. Miller with Volusia County Beach Safety in Florida, one of those reasons includes the inviting nature of the water temperature, which is currently at 83 degrees.
Additionally, the dynamism of Volusia County beaches can also complicate matters. Miller said that rip currents may occur in one area and then disappear in the afternoon, or vice versa. He noted that this is due to the large difference in the beach between high tide and low tide throughout the day.
"The water could be nice and calm, and then if the tide comes in, a big rip current opens up," Miller said. "People don't really expect that."
Because of this unpredictability, he recommended that any beachgoer coming to Volusia County beaches swim in view of a staff lifeguard tower. To find one, he suggested downloading the Volusia County Beaches app, which provides information on where staff lifeguard towers are located.
According to Miller, his team sees more than 2,000 rescues on average every summer. They had two rescues on Monday, with one of them unfortunately passing away.