Storm causes rip tide worries for busy Georgia beaches
by Russ Bynum, Associated Press
July 02, 2014 03:45 PM | 1570 views | 0 0 comments | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend | print
This Tuesday, July 1, 2014, satellite image released by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), shows the center of Tropical Storm Arthur off the east coast of Florida. With the July Fourth weekend on the horizon, the Atlantic hurricane season's first named storm plodded off Florida's coast early Wednesday, though Tropical Storm Arthur wasn't yet spooking too many in the storm's potential path. (AP Photo/NOAA)
This Tuesday, July 1, 2014, satellite image released by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), shows the center of Tropical Storm Arthur off the east coast of Florida. With the July Fourth weekend on the horizon, the Atlantic hurricane season's first named storm plodded off Florida's coast early Wednesday, though Tropical Storm Arthur wasn't yet spooking too many in the storm's potential path. (AP Photo/NOAA)
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People deal with the high surf and currents off Daytona Beach generated by Tropical Storm Arthur on Tuesday, July 1, 2014. A tropical storm watch was in effect for a swath of Florida's east coast. The National Hurricane Center urged those as far north as parts of Virginia to monitor Tropical Storm Arthur's path. (AP Photo/The Daytona Beach News-Journal, Jim Tiller)
People deal with the high surf and currents off Daytona Beach generated by Tropical Storm Arthur on Tuesday, July 1, 2014. A tropical storm watch was in effect for a swath of Florida's east coast. The National Hurricane Center urged those as far north as parts of Virginia to monitor Tropical Storm Arthur's path. (AP Photo/The Daytona Beach News-Journal, Jim Tiller)
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Lifeguard Gabrielle Porter raises flags, including the red high hazard flag, Tuesday morning, July 1, 2014, at the Red Cross lifeguard station in Jacksonville Beach, Fla. The red flag was raised in anticipation of rip currents and high waves from a tropical depression forming off Florida's coast that is expected to become Tropical Storm Arthur and pass to the east of Florida. (AP Photo/The Florida Times-Union, Will Dickey)
Lifeguard Gabrielle Porter raises flags, including the red high hazard flag, Tuesday morning, July 1, 2014, at the Red Cross lifeguard station in Jacksonville Beach, Fla. The red flag was raised in anticipation of rip currents and high waves from a tropical depression forming off Florida's coast that is expected to become Tropical Storm Arthur and pass to the east of Florida. (AP Photo/The Florida Times-Union, Will Dickey)
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A medium hazard flag warns beachgoers to be cautious of moderate surf and currents, in Miami, Tuesday, July 1, 2014. Tropical Storm Arthur has formed off the central Florida coast, becoming the first named storm of the Atlantic hurricane season. The National Hurricane Center in Miami says a tropical storm watch is in effect for the state's east coast, from Fort Pierce to Flagler Beach. (AP Photo/Alan Diaz)
A medium hazard flag warns beachgoers to be cautious of moderate surf and currents, in Miami, Tuesday, July 1, 2014. Tropical Storm Arthur has formed off the central Florida coast, becoming the first named storm of the Atlantic hurricane season. The National Hurricane Center in Miami says a tropical storm watch is in effect for the state's east coast, from Fort Pierce to Flagler Beach. (AP Photo/Alan Diaz)
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SAVANNAH, Ga. (AP) — Though forecast to remain far at sea while passing the Georgia coast, Tropical Storm Arthur could leave dangerous rip currents in its wake during one of the state's busiest weekends for beach vacations.

The National Hurricane Center on Wednesday predicted the storm's center will stay at least 100 miles from Georgia's beaches as it passes Thursday morning northward toward the Carolinas. Overall that's good news for the tens of thousands of tourists planning to celebrate the Fourth of July weekend on the Georgia coast.

But forecasters warned Arthur could leave turbulent seas in its wake, meaning rip currents strong enough to drag swimmers toward the open ocean could pose threats along Georgia beaches for a full day or more after the storm blows past.

On Tybee Island, which expects up to 30,000 visitors starting Thursday, lifeguards are flying warning flags while the city plans to post a roadside sign alerting beachgoers to beware of rip currents, island Mayor Jason Buelterman said Wednesday. Lifeguards will be prepared to close the waters to swimmers if the seas get too rough, he said.

"There are a lot of people who aren't familiar with rip tides because they don't live near the coast," Buelterman said. "The main thing is telling people if they have kids to be really, really careful because they can be swept out very, very quickly."

Georgia's beach resorts and parks further south — on St. Simons Island, Jekyll Island and Sea Island — are also booked solid for the weekend with about 16,000 tourists, said Scott McQuade, president of the Golden Isles Convention and Visitors Bureau.

He said the storm should be long gone by Friday night, when residents and visitors will be treated to four separate fireworks displays launched from the islands and mainland. Those with boats can watch all four almost simultaneously.

"I think our visitors are probably watching the weather as closely as we are," McQuade said. "But I think most people from what we can tell are keeping their plans and realizing this isn't going to be a major event here."

Clayton Scott, emergency management director for Savannah and surrounding Chatham County, said he expects few problems from Arthur other than rip currents.

If the Wednesday forecast holds, he said, the storm should have bypassed Georgia by the time many residents wake up Thursday morning.

"I think we dodged another one," Scott said.



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