Tropical system causes red flag conditions on first day of hurricane season in Baldwin County

Published: Jun. 1, 2023 at 5:20 PM CDT
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GULF SHORES, Ala. (WALA) - As a low pressure system in the Gulf of Mexico gathered strength overnight Wednesday, May 31, 2023 so did the wind and surf at Baldwin County beaches. Red flags went up Thursday morning.

Red flags framed by dark skies was the view to the north of Gulf Shores at times Thursday afternoon. Most of the rain missed to the north. The surf stayed rough though, keeping lifeguards on their toes.

Out on the beach, it was obvious by the crowds at Gulf Pace West summer is in the air. It wasn’t the crowds seen over the holiday weekend but still plenty of folks enjoying the sun and surf. Red flags didn’t keep beachgoers out of the water.

Rough surf and red flags welcome beachgoers on first day of 2023 hurricane season
Rough surf and red flags welcome beachgoers on first day of 2023 hurricane season(Hal Scheurich)

“The waves are coming in very strong, going out very strong. It’s pushing you to the side, but it was a very great experience getting out there. It’s still fun taking chances,” said Isaac Barton of Tennessee. “I like to live life on the danger side. I got out there a little bit, but I came back in.”

Barton and his family had a fun day, but beach safety officials said they fit the profile for the type of visitors his lifeguards have to keep a close eye on.

“We preach safety,” said Gulf Shores Beach Safety Chief, Joethan Phillips. “We want people to always heed the beach warning flags, so they want to live life on the edge. We understand the young guy and that’s what we run on a lot of times is teenage guys ages seventeen to mid-twenties that like to live life on the edge.”

The first day of summer is still three weeks away, but the first day of hurricane season is here and with it, folks are keeping an eye to the gulf as the first tropical system of the season continued to develop through the day.

“Well, this has happened before, you know. We get storms on and off,” said Foley resident, Bob Fitch. “I guess this one’s not going to amount to much, they say. It’s the first time we’ve gotten down here in the last week or ten days but yeah, red flag. It hasn’t gone double yet but I’m sure if it gets much worse, it will.”

Beach safety officials don’t expect that to happen. They anticipate the surf diminishing some by Friday as the system continues to move away from us.