Labor Day and Rip Currents

When we were at the beach a couple of months ago, there were red flags all up and down the beach warning people about the rip currents.  I only went knee-deep into the water and it felt like a WWF wrastler had me by the ankles and was trying to do the flip-n-flop-a-camel move on me.  I realize it was ignorant on my part, but I thought my peon sense of judgment superior to that of the Grand Mother.

Just last week, a 26-year-old local guy was visiting Panama City Beach, (Florida) and drowned after a rip current sucked him under.  The third drowning in a four-day period. He was only standing in waist deep water….and there were single flag warnings all up and down the beach.  The same warnings posted when my ignorant self was standing knee-deep a little further up the beach.  My heart aches for his friends and family.  Granted, there are many who would point out that he shouldn’t have been in the water in the first place.  But I think most people wouldn’t see the danger in knee or waist deep water, regardless of rip currents.  I think sometimes our peanut human brains fail to grasp the true power of Mother Nature.  Not a vengeful power….but a natural power.  One that demands respect.

I have a tendency to imagine the unseen in imaginative form.  For instance…Mother Nature.  Ever thought about what she’d look like?  I have.  I picture a woman of such beauty that it hurts to look her in the face…kind of like looking into the sun.  A woman with a presence so strong that you feel like a speck on a clover.  A woman with a massive skirt that billows and blows….and underneath that skirt lies the thunder, the floods, the avalanches, the rip currents, the hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes.  There also resides the bottomless canyons, majestic peaks, breathtaking waterfalls, saturating rains after a drought…..beauty and devastation living side by side under the same skirt of power.

So here we are…Labor Day weekend…people swarming the beaches for one last weekend in the sun before cooler temperatures creep in.  And all up and down the Florida coast, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) reports a HIGH rip current threat.  This threat is defined as:

High Risk of rip currents. Wind and/or wave conditions support dangerous rip currents. Rip currents are life-threatening to anyone entering the surf.

That pretty much means, DON’T GO IN THE WATER!  But how many people will throw back a few beers and diss Mother Nature by stumbling into the surf?  Hopefully, none.  Just respect the Mother and it’ll all be good.

For rip current warnings and forecasts, you can visit NOAA’s site for up to date info.  Probably not a bad idea to check it out if you’re beach-bound.

Hope everyone has a swell ‘n safe weekend!

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