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Crowded beaches, high rip currents make ‘perfect storm’ for water rescues

Two men died from a rip current in Emerald Isle over the weekend. They were the first two rip current-related deaths in Emerald Isle.
Published: Jul. 13, 2020 at 9:39 PM EDT
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EMERALD ISLE, N.C. (WITN) - There hasn’t been much change to the ocean currents, according to rescue officials and coastal researchers, but what has changed: The people.

“There’s more people here to see them,” said fourth-year UNC Coastal Geology PhD student Molly Bost. “It’s where there’s a break between two sand bars which allows to move more quickly between those two sand bars. And those types of occurrences can happen all the time.”

Bost attributes recent spikes in rip current rescues to recent weekends that have drawn large crowds to the beach.

“We have seen a reduced number of rip current occasions; however, we are seeing more of a population on our beach strands,” said Emerald Isle Assistant Fire Chief William Matthias. “What we feel are day-trippers people who drive in from a couple hours away and spend some time here on the beach strand.”

Officials say lower risks of rip currents don’t necessarily mean they’ll be weaker, but less likely.

“Not all rip currents are driven by weather in fact you can have semi-permanent rip currents that occur near jetis, piers, uh those kinds of permanent features,” said National Weather Service Meteorologist Morgan Simms.

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