Weather officials warn Memorial Day beachgoers of dangerous rip currents along coasts

More than 100 people die from rip currents each year

Weather service officials are warning beachgoers of dangerous surf and rip currents across U.S. coasts this Memorial Day weekend.

A developing non-tropical low off the Southeast coastline is forecast to produce heavy rain in the region and into the Mid-Atlantic that could cause flash flooding, gusty winds and hazardous beach and boating weather. 

The National Weather Service said that the system has been gathering some strength over warm waters off Florida and Georgia, with the center heading toward the Carolinas. 

"Coastal communities across the Southeast can expect strong and gusty winds, high surfs, in addition to life-threatening rip currents for much of the weekend," it said. "Boating conditions will also be quite treacherous with a storm warning issued by the Ocean Prediction Center/NWS Forecast Office in Charleston for the offshore waters of the Carolinas."


A surfer in Charleston, South Carolina

A surfer catches a ride at Folly Beach September 13, 2018, in Charleston, South Carolina.  (Mark Wallheiser/Getty Images)

Showers and thunderstorms are expected to spread inland and a moderate risk of excessive rainfall has been issued for parts of the Northern and Southern Carolina coastal plain. 

The Charleston office said on Twitter Thursday that low pressure of the coast would bring such conditions through Saturday, as well as breezy-to-windy weather and periods of minor coastal flooding.

The Wilmington office highlighted Friday that approximately 80% of rip current deaths in the Carolinas are people from inland areas, including those from nearby Kentucky.

"If you vacation at the beach, you need to know about rip currents and other hazards. Help us spread awareness to protect your friends and family," it tweeted.

Downtown Wilmington, North Carolina

North Front Street in Wilmington, North Carolina (Jeffrey Greenberg/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)


placeholderThe Carolinas weren't the only areas warning about rip current threats. 

The office in Miami, Florida, said Saturday that there was a high risk for the Palm Beaches and a moderate risk for Broward and Miami-Dade beaches. The Jacksonville office said Friday that windy conditions would create dangerous beach conditions and told people to stay out of the water.

Up the East Coast, the Mount Holly office said Saturday that there was a moderate risk for rip currents due to a brisk northeastern wind.

People move past a San Diego, California, bluff collapse

People run and walk past a major bluff collapse on Black's Beach in San Diego, California, on Friday March 24, 2023.  (Melina Mara/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

"With low pressure slowly drifting northward on Sunday and Monday, today might be the most pleasant day of the holiday weekend, before clouds increase. Still, if you're heading to the beaches today, be aware of the risk for rip currents, and prepare for some cool weather!" it advised. 

On the West Coast, California offices said Friday that larger waves would bring stronger rips, with the Los Angeles office noting that over 100 people die from rip currents in the U.S. each year.

"Perhaps not the beach weather you were looking for," the San Diego office said. "Either way, three-day weekend! Not for us though. We'll be here as always."

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