Baldwin County beaches remained closed to swimming Friday, July 12, 2019 as rough surf and rip currents continued to cause extreme hazards. Lifeguards in Orange Beach were patrolling the beachfront to keep people out of the water. Despite the water being closed, some folks were enjoying the day at the beach.
“These waves, I’ve never seen anything like it,” said Caden Kelly. “You look out from the bridge and all you can see is white.”
The Kelly family drove down from Saraland just to check out the power of Mother Nature and she didn’t disappoint.
“It is impressive to see the power of really, a storm that is a good ways away,” said Saraland Head Football Coach, Jeff Kelly.
Strong, steady winds blowing straight onshore created conditions even more dangerous than Thursday. Double red flags have been flying for two days, making it illegal for swimmers to enter the water. Lifeguards have been patrolling the beach to make sure people obey the law. They said the angry surf has helped make their job a little easier Friday.
“Today, the surf has built a lot,” said Battalion Chief over Beach Safety, Brett Lesinger. “It’s about two foot bigger than it was yesterday and the seas just look a lot rougher than they looked yesterday so the intimidation factor, I think does a lot for people.”
The center of Tropical Storm Barry was 200 miles away, but his impacts were being felt in Orange Beach and all along the Alabama coast. Those at the beach Friday were enjoying the powerful surf from a safe distance.
“The beach is very…I would say mean right now, so Mother Nature’s nothing to mess with,” said Brian Reed from Atlanta.
“We came here yesterday, and it was bad, but today it’s very bad,” Reed’s daughter, Lauren said. “I tried to get my feet in and it pulled me in right when I went under. Like, I didn’t go under, but it did tug a little bit.”
The only folks allowed in the water in Orange Beach were surfers, but it was too messy for most of them. Beach safety officials said they did respond to a call for a swimmer in distress near the pass. It ended up being a surfer who was safely paddling in when they reached him.