Tybee Island lifeguards say not as many people on the beach this Memorial Day

Tybee Island lifeguards say not as many people on the beach this Memorial Day
(Source: WTOC)

TYBEE ISLAND, GA (WTOC) - The unofficial start of summer often brings many to the beach, but forecasted bad weather has kept some away.

Tybee Ocean Rescue lifeguards say this year's Memorial Day crowd is smaller than normal.

Lifeguards say they noticed lots of rip currents Monday morning as they were setting up, so they are flying the yellow flags. They say waves were three to four feet high, which brought out some surfers, but they say they've seen fewer people than usual out on the beach. Those who are there have been following precautions. Lifeguards say they haven't had to rescue anyone from the water on Monday. They say people in the water have been staying closer to the beach, which keeps them safer.

"Definitely stay closer to shore. If you could stay inside the break line, that's where the waves break, you'll be a lot better off," said Tony Christiansen, Lifeguard, Tybee Ocean Rescue.

Jet ski and kayak renters say the weather also made for fewer people out on the water. With some breaks in the rain, some jet skiers were able to head out from Tybee Jet Ski and Watersports. Owner Freddie Barber says safety is always his first priority, and the weather is a big factor. If it's too rainy or windy, people can't go out onto the water. He says he checks the water and the weather about every hour-and-a-half and tells people where they should and shouldn't go. He says he's used to rainy weather on this long weekend, so it's something he prepares for.

"Probably get two good days out of Memorial Day Weekend. Now, from next weekend on out, for some reason, it's going to be perfect weekends, but Memorial Day, this usually happens. Also on Labor Day," Barber said. "Holiday weekend, you get a lot of boaters, and they're not safety-conscious on the water, so we actually cut back on some of the things we do on a holiday weekend, but the rest of the weekends, weekdays, full force."

Christiansen says kids on boogie boards are at risk of getting caught in rip currents because they're small and being on any sort of raft or floatation device makes you more likely to get caught in one. He says lifeguards will probably be out on the beach until around 6 p.m., but if the rain holds off and the crowds stick around later, they will too.

The Tybee Island Marine Science Center says its indoor activities like sea turtle feedings and tours were packed over the weekend with people trying to escape the rain.

Copyright 2018 WTOC. All rights reserved.