MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) – Thousands of families are expected to hit beaches along the Grand Strand this holiday weekend, and with Earl causing 8 to 10 foot waves along with rip currents, area lifeguards say they will have to be at the top of their game.
"We'll be heavily staffed, and have to be on our P's and Q's out here to make sure everyone goes home safe," explained Wesley Cox, a lifeguard manager with Lack's Beach Service. "We're going to keep everybody in close and we hope everybody takes caution whenever they do come out here."
Cox estimates he will have close to 30 lifeguards on duty this weekend between the 22nd Avenue Pier and 14th Avenue pier in Myrtle Beach. He says they also plan to call in several part-time employees to have some extra eyes on the surf.
"What we're anticipating is some big surf today and also the heavy rip currents which we're monitoring extremely carefully," he said.
Sgt. Philip Cain with Myrtle Beach Beach Patrol says his staff will also be closely watching the conditions along the coast as well as reports issued by the National Weather Service.
"We look at what meteorologists are predicting everyday as far as what they're saying the conditions are going to be," explained Cain. "Then we also look at the conditions ourselves being that we're here and a lot of times the National Weather Service doesn't see the conditions firsthand so we try to gauge."
From these observations, Sgt. Cain's staff then relays the information to area lifeguards who post the appropriate warning flags. While Cain doesn't anticipate any beach closings, he says they may place limitations on how far people can swim out the next couple days.
"For now we're telling people to go no further than waist deep," said Sgt. Cain. "If conditions don't improve we may make some changes or order people not to go in the water."