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Expert Warns Of Dangerous Rip Currents As Storm Passes Off New Jersey Coast

HIGHLANDS, N.J. (CBSNewYork) -- With a storm hovering off shore this weekend, rip currents may be popping up at beaches along the Jersey Shore.

The currents have already claimed lives this summer.

The normally peaceful shores of Sandy Hook became frenzied on Wednesday night, as lifeguards searched for a missing swimmer. On Friday morning, divers recovered the 25-year-old's body. Officials said a rip current was responsible. The powerful flow of water away from the shore can move faster than an Olympic swimmer. Rip currents can form at any beach with breaking waves.

"It's not big enough waves for people to be worried about going in the water, so they feel comfortable but conditions can still generate rip currents they're not aware of, and that's when we get into trouble," said Dr. John Miller.

Expert Warns Of Dangerous Rip Currents As Storm Passes Off New Jersey Coast

Dr. Miller is a coastal specialist for New Jersey's Sea Grant Consortium.

"Sometimes you can see it," he said, adding rip currents will sometimes visibly push foam out toward water.

You can also watch for low spots in the waves, but those signs do not always show, Dr. Miller warned.

Jones Beach lifeguard Maggie Johns said the currents have been worse this season. She said more people are getting caught up.

"This season is one of the highest I've worked with the number of rescues," she said.

As CBS2's Vanessa Murdock reported, the currents don't have to be deadly. If you're caught in one, you can make it back to shore safely.

The best and oldest advice: swim near a lifeguard.

"Don't do things that you're not capable of doing," he said.

Swimmers can also look for the currents from the shore. The water will look dirty or muddy, and the water will look calm with waves along the sides of the current.

The telltale sign that you are caught in a rip current? You can feel it, even if you're just standing, you will feel yourself being sucked backwards.

"I've been caught in one and swam sideways so I didn't get dragged into the water," Jake Livigni said.

Livigni did the right thing by moving parallel.

Do not get too far in if you're not a good swimmer and if pushed out by a rip current, let it take you, then swim parallel to the shore to get out of it. Then swim back to shore, Putney reported.

There is a moderate risk of rip currents over the weekend, the risk could be upgraded to high.

Johns said in her time at Jones Beach they have only shut the beach once to swimmers and that was during a hurricane.


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