Fierce riptide forces AMI to post rare double-red flags

rdymond@bradenton.comJuly 25, 2013 

— Tourist Alan Drew of Vincennes, Ind., fought 10- to-15-knot winds, 3-foot surf surges and 2- to- 3-knot rip currents Thursday in order to capture an image of what it was like Thursday on Coquina Beach.

After struggling against the surf just to walk out to knee-high depth, Drew took a photograph of an unidentified swimmer throwing his body into wind-frothed waves, as Drew had been doing earlier.

“I was out there waist deep and you could feel a very strong current moving you south,” said Drew, an elementary school principal visiting Coquina Beach with his wife, Donna.

All of Anna Maria Islands’ lifeguard-protected beaches, including Coquina and the Manatee County Public Beach, posted single red flags for extreme caution or double red “Beach Closed” flags due to the wind, waves and rip currents, said Lt. Rex Beach of the Manatee County Marine Rescue.

Beach said the red flags could possibly be lifted Friday if rip currents ease.

“We’re hoping Friday is better,” Beach said.

“Waves were crashing over the pier at the south end of Coquina and they put up no wading in water signs,” Drew said.

The conditions were caused by a full moon, extremely high tides and heavy wind, Beach said.

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