Officials warn of rip currents off Manatee County beaches

There is a moderate to high risk of rip currents along Manatee County beaches today and Thursday, according to the Florida Division of Emergency Manatement.

Beachgoers should use caution if entering the water where red flags are flying. “Very strong winds have developed over the Gulf of Mexico today, causing breaking waves of five to seven feet along the beaches of the Florida Panhandle. Due to these rough conditions, a high risk of rip currents is expected from Escambia County eastward through Gulf County. These persistent winds are also causing a moderate rip current risk on Florida’s Big Bend beaches from Franklin County to Dixie County, and along Southwest Florida beaches from Pinellas County through Collier County,” said Deputy State Meteorologist Michelle Palmer. “Visitors to Florida’s Gulf Coast beaches should check the rip current forecast before entering the water and follow any instructions from local officials.”

A rip current is a narrow, powerful current of water that runs perpendicular to the beach, out into the ocean.