Fox News Weather Center

Rip current risk high from Florida to Mississippi as thousands flock to beaches for spring break

People heading to the beaches from Florida to Mississippi could face an invisible danger when venturing into the surf this week.

Winds blowing onshore along the coast of Mississippi to Alabama, the Florida Panhandle and the Florida Atlantic coast will create strong and frequent rip currents.

According to, 1.8 million college students are on spring break this week.

Thousands of students and families will make the trek to southern beaches for their spring break vacation during this week alone.

When winds blow strongly onshore, water that is being pushed toward the coast cannot gently escape back to sea. Instead, the water returns to the sea in strong, narrow channels of water, known as rip currents.

According to the National Weather Service, rip currents account for 80 percent of rescues performed by beach lifeguards.

If caught in a rip current, it is best not to panic and instead to swim at an easy pace parallel to the shore. Eventually, the current will weaken and allow you to swim toward shore with minimal effort.

While rip currents are always present, they are often weak and less frequent when winds are light.

The combination of air flowing around high pressure north of the Bahamas and a large storm over northern Mexico will create the stiff winds and strong rip current setup.

This danger will be less likely along the west coast of Florida during much of the week.