Virginia Beach lifeguards clear beach during busy weekend, red flag warnings issued

VB Red Flags
Posted at 9:23 PM, Aug 22, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-22 23:43:59-04

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va - With storms off the coast, lifeguards are keeping those visiting local beaches safe during the busy weekend.
Several visitors and surfers are in Virginia Beach for this year’s east coast surfing championships.

"I just came out to surf and catch a couple of waves before the storm comes," Gage Weemes said, a surfer.

"We just had a tropical storm hit and we’re trying to get the last of it. Trying to surf as much as we can," Jake Miranda said, a surfer.

Tom Gill with the Virginia Beach Lifesaving Services says he and other lifeguards have had to clear the beach several times Sunday due to weather.

"Having to clear the beach is truly a monumental taste for a group of 16 to 22-year-olds having to tell people “Hey, we need to interrupt your vacation for a moment. Your time on the beach and your time on the beach." We know people have spent a lot of money coming down here but at the end of the day, it has to be about the safety," Tom Gill said, the President of Virginia Beach Lifesaving Services.

There are even red flags out to caution beachgoers to stay close to shore.

"We saw some good size rip currents but the good thing was we were very well prepared for it. We have red flags up," Gill said.

The East Coast Surfing Championships began Sunday with thousands of spectators and surfers expected to be in town. Gill says he doesn’t have to worry about the surfing community when bad weather arrives.

"The south end of the beach is pretty easy for us and really enjoyable. The guards are going to be down there and watch some of the surfing competitions. They enjoy those days," Gill said.

"Lightning is a factor. The rain or the rain action, we let them (surfers) go," George Alcaraz said, the general manager of the East Coast Surfing Championships.

Last year’s East Coast Surfing Championships were scaled down and an organizer says the beach will be busy throughout the week.

"In terms of crowds, it’s much more back to normal with big crowds throughout the week. We’ve seen a huge uptick in foot traffic and business," Wes Laine said, an organizer for the East Coast Surfing Championships.

This year marks the 59th year of the surfing championships.

"After last year’s event which we were lucky to have due to COVID, we were able to claim the title for the longest continuous surf championship and we’re excited to have that title here in Virginia Beach," Lisa Agosto said, the general manager of the East Coast Surfing Championships.