How to survive if you get caught in a rip current
This week’s weather in South Florida might feel like a trip to the beauty shop from hell. You’ll get a blow dry Wednesday, a rinse Thursday and then a chill by Friday morning — especially as you head up the state.
First, the wind and accompanying rip tide warnings for Wednesday. You might have noticed this already as you felt your car try to drift on the expressways during the rush-hour drive. That’s because winds of 25 mph with gusts up to 35 mph are blowing in from the southeast. It will remain breezy into Saturday night, with gusts settling in at about 18 mph, according to the National Weather Service.
The winds led to a high risk rip currents warning for all Atlantic coast beaches through at least Thursday night. These can be “life threatening to swimmers,” the weather service office in Miami said. Plan to swim? Plan something else.
If you must get wet — before Thursday’s thunderstorms do that to you — then at least make sure you are up to speed on what to do if you get caught in a rip current, a powerful channel of water that flows quickly away from the shore.
▪ Swim near a lifeguard.
▪ If you do get caught in a rip current, don’t panic. Float and it should pull you along with it for a little bit and you can then swim to shore.
▪ Don’t want to be passive and just float? Fine. But don`t swim against the current. If you can, swim in a direction that follows the shoreline until you get out of the current and then turn toward the shore and swim in to the beach.
▪ The swimming thing not working? Then face the shore and call or wave for help. (This is why you want to swim near a lifeguard station.)
Now, the rinse and chill part.
There’s a 40 percent chance of thunderstorms Wednesday night and it could increase Thursday morning as the odds bump up to 50 percent in South Florida. The Florida Keys will also see rain Thursday.
The storms and showers will bring in “a strong cold front [that] will move through the region” beginning late Wednesday night into Thursday, according to the National Weather Service. And for boaters, the rain and the cold front could produce waterspouts and continued gusty winds.
The Florida Panhandle could see below freezing temperatures, with a low of 31 degrees forecast for Friday and 32 degrees Saturday. Temperatures in Tallahassee, for instance, will only reach about 54 degrees before a gradual warming trend on Sunday inches the low up to a still cold-for-Florida 38 degrees.
That initial front will drop temperatures to about 60 degrees in South Florida and the Keys Thursday. The high during the day should be about 79 degrees.
A second shot will bring in more cold air behind the front Thursday night, dropping temperatures to a low of 56 Friday in Miami-Dade, according to The Weather Channel.
This is the time North and Central Florida really feels winter as Gainesville starts to flirt with near freezing lows of 37 degrees Thursday and Saturday. On Friday, students and professors at the University of Florida will brace for the coldest day of the week with a high of just 59 during the day, dropping to 35 at night.
Friday lows in the Naples area should be 47 degrees, and in Tampa, a bit cooler at 42 degrees, according to forecasters at the Weather Channel.