Emerald Isle, N.C. — Rip currents are proving to be deadly this summer, with at least four deaths this month at Emerald Isle and Atlantic Beach.

While there are red flags up and down the 12-mile stretch of Emerald Isle, indicating people should stay out of the water, hundreds were seen swimming up and down the coastline Tuesday.

Emerald Isle police have received 47 calls for help and successfully rescued more than 80 people caught in rip currents between June 9 and June 20.

Officials are urging people to understand how to respond if caught in a rip current and not to panic. Tips include treading water and raising your hands until help arrives to conserve energy.

Rip currents can be identified by foamy or turbulent water near a sandbar, and they often occur near piers or jetties.

Emerald Isle

Last week’s rip currents were considered normal summer events, according to David Glenn from the National Weather Service. But the rip currents over the weekend were caused by extra long swells arriving perpendicular to the shore from South Africa, which are more unusual.

“When the wave energy comes perpendicular to the coast that often leads to a greater or enhanced rip current risk,” Glenn said.

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