By Renee Duff, AccuWeather meteorologist
April 22,2017, 1:41:33AM,EDT
Boaters and bathers should exercise caution as dangerous rip currents threaten the east coast beaches of Florida through the weekend.
Beaches from near Savannah, Georgia, southward to Miami will be buffeted by persistent east to southeasterly winds off the Atlantic.
These winds will increase the frequency and intensity of rip currents.
“An elevated risk of rip currents will continue through the weekend along the Atlantic coast of Florida,” AccuWeather Meteorologist Ryan Adamson said.
If possible, only go to a beach that is under the watch of lifeguards.
Before entering the water, look for clues that a rip current is present such as an area of churning, discolored water that is flowing away from the beach and/or a gap in the incoming waves.
Should you get caught in a rip current, swim parallel to the shore to escape the current’s grip before swimming back to the beach.
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Small craft should exercise caution in the choppy seas and heed all advisories.
A storm moving across the Sunshine State on Sunday will decrease the rip current threat early next week.
“Winds will turn from onshore to offshore in the wake of the storm, which will reduce the risk of rip currents by Monday and Tuesday,” Adamson said.
The storm will also deliver a beneficial, thorough soaking on Sunday, especially to southern parts of the peninsula. The rain will help to put a damper on brush fires burning across the state.
The U.S. Drought Monitor released on April 20 reports that over 34 percent of the peninsula is enduring a severe drought.
Tampa, Orlando, Fort Myers, Naples and West Palm Beach have received less than 50 percent of their normal precipitation since the beginning of 2017.