Even though Tropical Storm Elsa is expected to stay well to our east, some impacts will be felt along Baldwin County beaches. Beach safety officials in Gulf Shores are expecting rip current risks to worsen over the next couple of days, something beachgoers on Monday, July 5, 2021 said they’d already noticed.
The huge holiday crowds had cleared out but there were still thousands of visitors enjoying the 5th at Gulf Shores beaches. The sun was shining and the water inviting, but the building seas made for some sporty action in the surf. Flags have been yellow for the last several days but those who had gone in the surf said it has gotten much rougher on Monday.
“The current is really, really bad and the undertow is also really bad,” said Heather Brooks from Colorado. “It pulls really bad to the right so even if you’re standing, you’re leaning to the right a lot so it’s the undertow that pretty much kind of concerns me a little bit.”
Beach safety officials said they may have to post red flags before the day is through. Yellow flags indicate a moderate risk for rip currents and those enjoying a swim said the waves were stronger than they’ve been the last few days.
“It was definitely kind of rough. More rougher than it usually is,” said Emmie Guidry from Hammond, LA.
“The current under us was taking us a little bit, but it’s still fun. I love it,” added Guidry’s friend, Alexis Pecararo.
Gulf Shores beach safety officials said they’re coordinating with Orange Beach officials on the changes to the surf conditions they’re seeing, and visitors should expect them to worsen.
“As Elsa moves further into the gulf were going to start getting larger waves from the system pushing inward, so if that happens the lifeguards are prepared to go to red flags or even double red flags if it warrants closing the water for the safety of the people here,” explained Chief of Staff for Gulf Shores Fire Rescue, Melvin Shepard.
Shepard said it’s not just the potential rip current risk from Elsa that’s cause for concern. As the system moves out and north winds begin to blow from the storm’s counterclockwise rotation, people on floats and children’s beach toys could be blown offshore. Lifeguards will have to keep a watchful eye because they said those children are then tempted to go into deeper water after their inflatable toys.