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Strong Rip Currents Big Concern At Shore Points This Weekend

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As the flags of patriotism blow in the intensifying winds, the Atlantic Ocean continues to become more and more unsettled.

Dangerous rip currents are becoming a bigger problem than normal as Hurricane Arthur continues its move up the coast.

The National Weather Service has issued a High Surf Advisory that will be in effect from 8 a.m. Friday until 6 a.m. Saturday for waves and surf up to 6 to 8 feet. Beach erosion will also occur as a result of the wave action.

Rip currents account for nearly 80 percent of all rescues lifeguards do.

The concerns come less than a week after a 14-year-old boy was swept away at by the current in Ocean City.

"All the wave height and the wind of today with the storm coming is causing larger than-normal-swell, and that swell comes in with a lot of water and has to exit somewhere," said the Ocean City Beach Patrol's Mark Jamieson.

Last Sunday, the powerful current separated 14-year-old Cory Hammond from his friends at the Ninth Street beach in Ocean City.

Officials believe they found his body Thursday afternoon near the Longport Bridge.

The Ocean City Beach Patrol said the first few moves are vital if you get caught in a rip tide.

"You could be in it, relax, stay afloat and swim parallel to shore. If you fight the rip current, you're actually going to be counterproductive. The water moves faster than we can," Jamieson said.

With a powerful storm planning to wreak havoc on the holiday weekend, Jamieson said it's probably smart to only stay in the shallow end until Arthur has moved on.

He said the rip currents run further into the ocean, making it more dangerous.

“When there is an increased storm surge, there is an increase in head injuries. You might want to go out and ride waves in these shallow breaks, but with the storm surge they’re going to break in shallower water. We also have what we call flash rips, where the water comes up and pulls out with the storm surge," Jamieson said.

Jamieson said there are three general ways to spot a rip current: you'll notice discolored water flowing against the grain of the ocean; you may also see a flat spot with a slick to oily look to it; and a section of what looks like white foam is another sign the water is going out to sea.

"You'll find them a lot on beaches where there are jetties or pipe, there's natural manmade structures that cause little holes, so that water naturally exits through that hole. If you go to a beach where there is not a jetty or a pipe, it's going to create a depth spot inside a sandbar and that's where it's going to exit," Jamieson said.

He said they saw a 2-3 feet increase in their waves Thursday and expect to see their biggest swell spike Friday afternoon.

"We will be open if there's people here and we'll keep it at a safe depth as we see it fit for the water conditions," Jamieson said.

With so many children up and down the shore, parents said they'll be keeping a watchful eye on their kids.

"It's just scary because it's going to be bigger waves, and you've just got to be watching your kids, even though the lifeguards are," Staci Tosi said.

Lifeguards will be out until 8 o'clock Friday and Saturday, FOX 29's Drew Dickman reported.

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