Strong rip currents, red flags at the Virginia Beach Oceanfront and Outer Banks

Posted at 11:01 AM, Aug 26, 2014
and last updated 2015-07-24 19:12:21-04

Virginia Beach, Va. - The red flags are up today at the Virginia Beach Oceanfront and the Outer Banks.

Thanks to Hurricane Cristobal, it looks like the red flags will most likely continue to stay up throughout the week.

Crews from the Virginia Beach Lifesaving Service go out each morning at 7:30 a.m. to assess the water at the Virginia Beach Oceanfront, according to Tom Gill, Chief Deputy of Virginia Beach Lifesaving Services. That's when they decide whether or not to issue a red flag warning.

Today's restriction is knee-deep, Gill says.

Crews continue to monitor the currents hourly all day long. Rip currents and heavy swells are keeping lifeguards busy as they work to keep people out of the water.

Right now, there are strong rip currents due to wind, as well as bigger waves. Gill says waves right now are "choppy and breaking everywhere, not typical of the Oceanfront."

Lifeguards have been having to blow a lot of whistles lately, Gill says. Rip currents won't necessarily pull you under, but they will take you out further, he says.

Mirek Dabrowski is the Director of Surf Rescue for the towns of Duck and Southern Shores. He says high winds womcing from the northeast have made the water dangerous since Sunday and it's only expected to get worse as the week moves on.

"The high pressure system is now fighting with the low pressure system from the hurricane that's coming up the coast. So as one system moves off, the other system is going to move in and create even more swell," Dabrowski says.

The National Weather Service has Virginia Beach listed in the "highest risk zone" area today. Gill says he does not predict much of an improvement tomorrow, but he is expecting stronger currents into tomorrow and Thursday.