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Southeast: Memorial Day Weekend Swimmers Face Rip Currents

Beachgoers heading to the Southeast coast this Memorial Day holiday weekend are being put on alert for dangerous rip currents.

While the Atlantic Ocean is still too chilly for more than a quick dip farther to the north, waters off the Southeast coast are more enticing for swimmers this holiday weekend.

Water temperatures range from the middle 70s from southern North Carolina to the lower 80s offshore of South Florida.

Further fueling the temptation for swimmers will be air temperatures approaching or rising into the 80s daily and building humidity.

One thing that will keep residents and vacationers from wading too deep is the threat of rip currents.

The danger exists from the Outer Banks of North Carolina to Myrtle Beach and Hilton Head, South Carolina, to Jacksonville Beach, Daytona Beach and Miami, Florida. The rip current threat will be higher at the Florida beaches than the Carolina coast.

The rip currents will result from an area of high pressure causing a gusty breeze to blow directly onshore.

A separate threat zone for the holiday weekend will exist along the northern Gulf Coast, including Pensacola Beach, Florida.

Due to the rip current risk, beachgoers are urged to only swim where lifeguards are present.

For those that do get caught in a rip current, it is important to stay calm. You can first attempt to escape the current by swimming parallel to the coast. If you remain trapped, you should then either float or tread water until the current eventually weakens.

Seas will not be extremely rough, but choppy enough--ranging from 3 feet to as high as 6 feet along the east coast of Florida--that operators of small craft should use caution.

Beachgoers from southern South Carolina to Florida will also have to contend with some clouds and a stray shower or thunderstorm this Memorial Day holiday weekend. That is especially true for the South Carolina and Georgia beaches on Monday.

The entire weekend will definitely not be a washout with the shower and thunderstorm activity set to be spotty in nature. Skies will otherwise be partly to mostly sunny.

Along the northern Gulf Coast, thunderstorm activity will increase through the weekend with flooding downpours targeting Louisiana and Texas.

Anyone on the beach should seek shelter as soon as thunder is heard. Thunder is a tell-tale sign that the risk of lightning is present.

Since the noise from crashing waves can make it difficult to hear thunder, AccuWeather MinuteCast® is another tool to stay ahead of any thunderstorm.