There were dangerous surf conditions across the gulf coast Thursday, July 11, 2019 as Tropical Storm Barry continued its westward track. Baldwin County beaches were closed to swimming. Double red flags were posted Thursday morning and are expected to fly though the weekend.
With the waters closed to swimming, not everyone was pleased. When people visit the beach, they want to swim, but one look at the crashing waves was enough to keep most people out of the water.
“I don’t like water. Nothing above my knees and I’m good and this scares me,” said Tracy Breedlove from Cincinnati.
“I really don’t want to be out there. It’s very dangerous, but it’s still a beautiful sight,” added Jacob Fox, visiting from Atlanta.
Lifeguards spent much of the day interacting with beachgoers. When they saw people getting a little too bold, lifeguards gave them a personal warning and educated them on the risk of going in the water.
“He said there’s a double flag warning, so we can’t swim today,” Emma Barton said. “Riptides are too strong.”
“The lifeguard done pulled me out. I was out knee deep. He said go ankle deep, so you know, I enjoyed it. Cool water feels good, but the waves is what got me. I wanted to get out in them,” said a disappointed Jeremy Breedlove.
Conditions changed dramatically over the last 24 hours and are expected to worsen. Thursday’s five to six-foot surf is supposed to double in size by Friday afternoon. Beach safety officials closed the water Thursday morning, saying it’s easier to keep people out of the water than it is to get them out of the water once they’re in trouble.
“It was pretty calm yesterday, but these winds have shifted. They’re out of the east-southeast right now, forecasted to be 20 to 30 miles per hour so as that continues to blow these waves, we are expecting them to increase in size,” explained Gulf Shores Battalion Chief over beach safety, Melvin Shepard. “We felt It best to go to double red flags this morning and close the water before people started showing up at the beach.”
Shepard warned that entering the water during these conditions is a punishable offense. You could be arrested and face a fine up to $500.