Strong rip currents threaten surfers, swimmers in Palm Beach County

PALM BEACH, FL (WFLX) - Lifeguards warned beachgoers about the strong rip currents in Palm Beach County as red flags lined South Florida beaches Sunday.

Just one red flag flapped in the breeze cautioning swimmers to stay close to shore. "Notice there's more surfers here on the inside than on the outside," said surfer Robert Hoppe.

Hoppe is an experienced surfer, and he even said Sunday's current took a toll on his body.

"If there's waves, I'm surfing. After being out there for 40 minutes, my shoulders were already burned. It was rough," said Hoppe.

NewsChannel 5 meteorologists say waves in Palm Beach County were between 5 and 7 feet high and the surf was way overhead.

"It's big and very drifty. I started all the way over there and in 40 minutes I moved maybe a mile or so," said Hoppe.

Riptide season collides with tourist season, keeping the Palm Beach lifeguards on their toes.

"Right when they walk down the beach, I'm checking them out. I'm looking to see what kind of shape they're in, if they have a suntan," said senior lifeguard Daniel Kniseley.

Kniseley says if you're not a strong swimmer, it's best to stay out of the water. If you do swim, he says it's important to stay in front of a lifeguard.

"Everybody has got to know their own limitations," said Kniseley.

Frank Lacosta says he only sees waves like this a few times a year.

"It's taking us out pretty good, we're paddling against it.  If you get to the outside it's not nearly as bad," Hoppe.

Kniseley says he hasn't pulled anyone from the water yet this weekend. He says that's because he's watching and warning swimmers of the dangers. Meteorologists say rip currents could continue throughout the week.

"Lifeguards shouldn't be making a lot of rescues. It's all preventative," said Kniseley.

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