Gulf 'ripped' due to West wind, but rain chances down

rdymond@bradenton.comJuly 27, 2013 

MANATEE -- Single red flags, indicating a definite hazard, flew over four lifeguard stands on Coquina and Manatee public beaches on Anna Maria Island all day Friday.

The flags warned of deadly rip currents, said Lt. Rex Beach of Manatee County Marine Rescue.

"They were similar to Thursday's conditions but not as bad," Beach said. "The waves were a foot shorter than Thursday's three-foot waves."

Manatee County's weather forecast for Saturday and Sunday, calling for a continued steady westerly wind, means the rip current threat will continue for a while longer, said Robert Garcia, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Ruskin.

"I think starting next week the wind should shift and that should reduce the threat of rip currents on the beach," Garcia said.

Rip currents are caused when westerly winds coming in push water in faster than it can roll ashore, Garcia said.

The water bottlenecks and finally squirts back out in channels, potentially sucking humans out with it.

"The water can't get elevation on the beach to roll in so when it meets the sand it is forced back out in the Gulf, and as it goes, it drags

the swimmers out with it," Garcia said.

"It's kind of unusual for us to have west winds," Garcia added.

By Monday, the steady west wind will be disrupted and conditions will be a bit drier, Garcia said.

"Thunderstorms should be east of Interstate 75 next week with temperatures getting close to 90 with overnight lows in the 70s," Garcia said. "We should be more into 20 and 30 percent chances of precipitation, diminishing overnight and building back up with daytime heating. Of course, anything from the tropics could change that."

Garcia and other meteorologists are also monitoring Tropical Storm Dorian in the Atlantic, which may weaken over the next few days before reaching the eastern Caribbean.

Richard Dymond, Herald reporter, can be reached at 941-748-0411, ext. 6686.

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