Expert Warns of Rip Currents Near Piers and Jetties

Tropical Storm Debby may be hundreds of miles away in the Gulf, but the Coastal Bend is seeing some effects right here along local beaches, in the form of some good surfing.

If you are heading to the beach this week, experts say have fun, but also be aware of the rip current risk. A study done by a Dr. Philippe Tissot, associate professor at Texas A&M University - Corpus Christi, it was found that the chance of drowning is the same, wether conditions favor strong rip currents or if it's just a nice day at the beach like Monday.

"I think it's pretty killer right now," surfer Tanner Norton said. "Haven't seen it like this in a very long time."

Surfers like Tanner Norton have noticed some pretty good waves, most likely associated with Tropical Storm Debby. When the waves look like this, the risk for rip currents increase. On Monday, conditions were moderate.

Tissot, who monitors surf conditions, said the study he conducted found that the risk for drownings associated with rip currents are greater along the South Texas coast because of people who swim closer to the piers and jetties.

Another surprising fact the study found was that the largest number of drownings happen to young men instead of children or women. He said it just goes to show swimming is not a risk-free activity.

"In general, our beaches are safe, they're perfect, come to our beaches, but be aware of a few things," Tissot said. "When it's windy with large waves in our region, near peers and jetties, watch out for rip currents."

Norton said that the best way to get away from a rip current is to swim parallel to the beach, left or right. After going a good distance, you will eventually get out of it.

Experts say the force of a rip current can drag a swimmer away from the shore at a rate of up to eight miles an hour. Tissot said it's always a good idea to check the surf conditions before going to the beach.


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