MANATEE -- Weather forecasters are again advising beachgoers in Manatee County and elsewhere in the region to be careful when entering the Gulf of Mexico because of the possibility of rip currents.
"Moderate westerly flow over the northeast Gulf of Mexico will continue to generate choppy breaking waves along portions of the Florida west coast through this evening," the National Weather Service said early Thursday. "As a result, an elevated moderate risk of rip currents will also continue through this evening."
Rip currents are powerful channels of water flowing quickly away from shore, which can occur most often at low spots or breaks in the sandbar and in the vicinity of structures such as groins, jetties and piers. In some instances, even the strongest swimmers can be pulled out to sea.
The Weather Service advised beachgoers to heed the advice of lifeguards and beach patrol, and to pay attention to flags and posted signs.
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Meanwhile, the Weather Service is calling for scattered showers and thunderstorms in Bradenton on Thursday, mainly before 2 p.m.
Skies should be partly sunny, with a high near 88 -- and heat index values as high as 98. Winds will be from the west at 14 to 16 mph, with gusts as high as 22 mph. The chance of rain is 40 percent.
Thursday night, skies will be mostly cloudy, with a low around 78. The chance of rain is 20 percent.