True or False: Rip Currents Pull People Underwater?

True or False:  Rip Currents Pull People Underwater?
Public Service NOAA
Weather Talk
Tuesday, June 3, 2014 - 12:03am

We often here about the "Risk of Rip Currents" being High or Low.  We may wonder:  "Do rip currents pull people underwater?"

Actually, the answer is NO.  Rip currents pull people AWAY from shore out to sea.  Rip currents can still be very, very dangerous though.

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), "Rip currents most typically form at low spots or breaks in sandbars, and also near structures such as groins, jetties and piers. Rip currents can be very narrow or extend in widths to hundreds of yards. The seaward pull of rip currents varies: sometimes the rip current ends just beyond the line of breaking waves, but sometimes rip currents continue to push hundreds of yards offshore."

People run into trouble with rip currents due to fear, panic, exhaustion, or lack of swimming skills.  In other words, though a rip current will not pull a person down underwater, that person better be a very good and fit swimmer in order to get to a place where one can swim perpendicular to the rip current and escape its pull.

Watch for my "Marine Forecast" every night at 5 and 10 p.m. for your "RISK OF RIP CURRENTS."

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