Rip current warning along the coast in Atlantic Beach

ATLANTIC BEACH, N.C. (WITN) – There was a moderate rip current risk Friday along the coast of Atlantic Beach.

Locals and tourists gathered at Atlantic Beach for a fun day filled with sun and sand. Aside from laughter and making memories, they also had to deal with a moderate rip current risk.

“It’s scary,” said Kristin Wilson, a beachgoer. “The waves are intense. We were sitting on the low tide part and it was still pulling us all over the place.”

The National Weather Service said the north side of Cape Harrateas is a high rip current risk. However, the south side of the island, near Ocracoke was moderate.

“A rip current is a small channel of water,” said Deputy Chief of Atlantic Beach Fire Department Casey Arthur. “As the water comes into the shore, that water needs to go somewhere. It may seem like the water will go out all at one time, but it doesn’t. It funnels through these other channels.”

The Atlantic Beach Fire Department and lifeguards rescued two people in the water from a rip current Friday morning. Along the beach there are flags blowing in the air to inform people what the water is like. Pamela Greene visited the beach with her family, and said when was shocked when she saw the waves.

“When I first got onto the beach I said the current was rough. It’s rougher than it normally is during this time of day, said Greene.”

Along Atlantic Beach and the Crystal Coast, flags are set up on lifeguards posts. On Friday, the flags stayed yellow.

“I look for the flags and saw it was a yellow flag,” said Pamela Greene. “I said we have to be careful so don’t go too far.”

When it comes to the flag system, there are three different meanings for the yellow and red flag. A single yellow flag means a moderate risk, while a single red flag means high rip currents. Deputy Chief Arthur shared that they usually only use a double red flag before a hurricane.

“The ocean is always dangerous even on a calm day it is still water,” said Deputy Chief Arthur. “If you think about it, we have a lot of people that drown in swimming pools every day so water can be dangerous for people who don’t know how to swim regardless of whether it is the ocean or not.”

Deputy Chief Arthur suggests people know their surroundings, swim with someone else and have a floatation device with them in the water.

The National Weather Service says the rip current risk on Saturday will be low.