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    Forecasters warning of dangerous rip currents on Gulf Coast

    May 21, 2021 GMT

    GULF SHORES, Ala. (AP) — Potentially deadly rip currents will be a problem along Gulf of Mexico beaches this weekend, forecasters said Friday as they warned visitors to stay out of the water.

    Officials posted double red flags alerting people to stay out of the water early this week because of big waves and rip currents, which are channels of water that can pull swimmers out to sea. The National Weather Service said conditions were hazardous along beaches in Alabama and the Florida Panhandle.

    With sunny weather forecast and thousands of people at the coast, forecasters said dangerous conditions will continue all weekend. Lifeguards in Gulf Shores already have rescued about 45 people this season, and beach safety director Joethan Phillips said the surf is a lot different than a pool.

    “Even if it’s a flat day there’s inshore holes that you may step off of and it would be deeper from where the rip currents did pull, so maybe something that you’re not aware of and step off into, it’d be deeper. And if you are not an experienced swimmer, that could definitely hamper you when you’re trying to get out,” he told WSFA-TV.