Officials warn beach goers to be cautious about dangerous rip currents

Be aware of the weather if you plan to hit the beach

BRADENTON BEACH, Fla. (WFLA) — This incoming cold weather is making it dangerous to spend time at the beach this holiday.

On New Year’s Day, there were rip current warnings for Sarasota and Manatee counties, but that still didn’t stop people from jumping in.

On Monday, the skies were gloomy, the temperature was cold and the waves were choppy. It was not the best example of a Florida beach day, but surprisingly some tourists didn’t mind.

“The water is 34 degrees up in New Jersey and -2! So this is nice!” said New Jersey native Chris Doran.

Beachgoers have to be careful- the National Weather Service issued a high rip current risk for the area. This is when powerful channels of water flow quickly away from shore.

“Thankfully I’m a pretty good swimmer, I probably won’t go out too far but better be careful,” said Angelina Klapperich from Wasilla, Alaska.

Klapperich just happens to be Miss Alaska 2017. She visits the area regularly with her mother and she doesn’t mind the weather.

“It’ll be a little frigid but to be honest in Alaska today they’re cutting out holes in the ice and people are jumping in so I think I have the better end of the deal,” she said.

Marine rescue officials urge extreme caution. If you’re caught in a rip current, stay afloat and wait for help. And if you’re on your own, swim parallel to shore.

All of these brave souls were aware of the risks before they dove in.

“We’ve got plenty of people, if anybody goes missing, we’ll grab em,” said Doran.

“We’ll make sure that everybody goes in just far enough to get wet and do what they need to do for the plunge but no extracurriculars today,” said organizer Brian Crudele.

These swimmers immediately noticed the temperature and the current.

“The current was strong, it’s really hard to get out there in any kind of distance,” said Bracken Fields, visiting from Indiana.

These people went swimming for a good cause and they were prepared, but over the next day or so, officials don’t recommend going out there.

“Know their limitations in swimming, and if they do get caught in a rip current just follow it,” said one swimmer.

The high rip current risk expires late Monday night, however, the National Weather Service says on Tuesday there will be strong winds and choppy seas, so this week it’s important for people to keep an eye out on the weather and the flags at the beach.

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