Tybee Island officials concerned about rip currents

Tybee Island official concerned about rip currents
(Source: WTOC)
(Source: WTOC)

TYBEE ISLAND, GA (WTOC) - Many people on Tybee Island are wondering how this weather system will impact the upcoming Memorial Day Weekend.

It was pretty packed Thursday near the pier. A lot of folks are trying to take advantage of the sunshine and the calm conditions at the beach while they can.

Several folks at the beach say they are constantly monitoring the weather because many had outdoor plans throughout the weekend. But many folks are getting an early start.

I was told the crowds on the beach have almost doubled compared to what it was earlier this week. Lifeguards tell me they will be in contact with the National Weather Service twice a day throughout the weekend, especially for changing rip currents.

"Being from Oregon—we don't get this great weather, beach and warm waters like this so this was an opportunity like this so this was an opportunity for me to enjoy it one last time," said Stella Butler, Oregon.

"Not at all concerned about it today but it gives you a good off day whenever it rains. A little overcast, gives your skin a break, your body a break and you get back out there and do it again," said Jill Jarrard, Atlanta.

The flag flying at the lifeguard station is green—that means conditions are good. But I'm told that will change.

Lifeguards tell me they will know more Friday morning when they are updated by the National Weather Service, and they will be receiving twice-a-day updates throughout the weekend about the changing conditions.

Officials tell me, you will also notice new signs on the beach warning folks about the dangerous rip currents.

Memorial Day Weekend is one of the busiest weekends on Tybee and officials fear the influx of visitors combined with this weather system could be the perform storm for trouble

"We are very concerned about that. We are going to monitor it every day and I know we have a lot of people coming into town that are probably not the strongest swimmers in the ocean. Best advice to them – swim near a lifeguard. Pay attention to the flag colors and pay attention to the water and your surroundings," said Tybee Fire and Ocean Rescue Cpt. Todd Horne.

Every year, the lifeguards here are warning folks about the dangers of going out to the sand bar. This area is always dangerous because folks can get trapped or caught in a rip current, but officials are really worried about this weekend. Because systems brewing off the coast can create strong rip currents.

This year, lifeguards have a new two-story stand where they are able to see farther out, which will give them a better view of folks coming and going from the beach. They have also added new signs around the beach to warn folks about the dangerous tides.

"We've got signs on the south end warning them of the currents. At the north end of the island, we've got signs out warning people when the ships go by – of the strong currents or the title currents they push onto shore. We just want everyone to have fun this weekend and enjoy themselves but be responsible," said Cpt. Horne.

Officials tell me they do not believe tides will have any impact to traffic on Highway 80 coming on and off the island. But they will their helicopter on standby should an emergency happen, and they need to get someone on and off the island quickly.

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