Rip Currents Close Gulf Shores, Panama City Beach


By Ashley Thompson

Over the past two days, at least five people have drowned from rip currents and one is still missing off the coast of Alabama and Florida gulf beaches.

Swimming at two popular beaches is now off limits after double red flags were raised, indicating dangerous waters. The City of Gulf Shores sent out a statement that reads in part, "While water conditions may not appear to be life-threatening, the underlying rip currents that are present represent a significant risk to anyone entering the Gulf."

We caught up with cheerleaders on their way back from Panama City Beach who say water conditions were frightening.

"We were going to the beach to pick up some sand and I looked behind me and there were big, giant clouds and the waves are really, really tall," says Nina Rauch.

"I noticed that the waves were coming up even faster and harder," says Hunter Whitley. "Even when we had our ankles in, they still pulled us down even further."

Rip Currents are known to pull people into deeper waters, making it difficult to swim. But there are people still trying to, despite repeated warnings. Entering beach waters under double red flags is not only illegal, it can be deadly. Some say rip current warnings are enough to keep them from even going to the beach.

"I'm just scared of them," says Erick Walton. "I have the shivers when I see stuff like that."

Others say the beach can still provide entertainment even without the waters.

"I would still go," says cheerleader Savannah Brunt. "It's the beach, it's a fun atmosphere but I definitely would not get into the water."

Alabama News Network did reach out to the Alabama Department of Tourism offices regarding Gulf Shores but they refused to comment.


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