Rip current safety

Science & Technology

(WUTR/WFXV/WPNY-TV) — With only two weeks of summer left, people are getting their last trips to the beach to soak up some sun and go for a swim. Whether you’re swimming in a Bay, the ocean, or on the Great Lakes, there’s still a risk of encountering rip currents.

What are rip currents? Rip currents are powerful, channeled currents of water flowing away from shore. They typically extend from the shoreline, through the surf zone, and past the line of breaking waves. They can be affected by: 

  • Waves (surf heights, period, direction)
  • Beach (slope, orientation, material)
  • Water levels (tidal cycle, tide ranges)
  • Winds (affect wave breaking) and wind-driven currents alongshore
  • Other (local coastal configuration, beach and promontories by natural or human made)

Rip currents can and often do form on calm, sunny days so great weather for the beach doesn’t always mean it’s safe to swim. You can check your local beach forecast before heading to the beach and ask a lifeguard for water conditions before taking a dip.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.