Surfers grab their boards and head into the storm - WMBFNews.com, Myrtle Beach/Florence SC, Weather

Surfers grab their boards and head into the storm

 MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - Dozens of surfers lined the beach Thursday, despite double red flag warnings to stay out of the water. 

Mark Watkins has been surfing since he was 12, and is no stranger to surfing during major storms, including hurricane Hugo.

"The end of the pier got broke off, while we were out there, it goes bobbing by, in the current, that was pretty notable, you know, you see the end of the pier break off you're like 'Woah, I guess it's big today!'" Watkins remembered. 

Watkins said he was about 14 at the time, surfing during Hugo in North Carolina. 

Horry County Beach Patrol issued a double red flag after hearing from their lifeguards, the National Weather Service, and judging the waters for themselves.

Their main concerns are wave height, long shore currents and especially rip currents.

However, surfers feel they shouldn't be in the same category as swimmers.

"There's a lot of people who have never seen an ocean before, send little Johnny out there, and that's a bad thing. You know, I used to life guard and nine times out of 10,  it's a lack of knowledge that gets people in trouble.

"As a surfer, you're on a board, so you're generally able to get above that most of the time. It makes it a lot easier than when you are submerged in the water trying to fight the resistance," Watkins added. 

Beach Patrol says each town or city along the Grand Strand will make its own call because the waters may be different, and surfers can see a difference too.

"It can be not very good here, and you can go an hour up the road and it could be the best day of the year," Watkins said. 

Some surfers admit they have been kicked out of the water by police before, but feel the only surfers that should be out there are experienced.

"You know certainly anyone can find themselves in trouble in the ocean, it's not something you ever want to think you're in control of, but general speaking if you've got enough experience, or have been in bigger conditions, this wouldn't raise a flag for anyone, you know that knew what they were doing," Watkins said. 

Watkins and other surfers recommend everyone know their limits, and once winds pick up they do suggest getting out of the water. But police say they will be giving out warnings, and if they have to warn the same person more than once, it could result in a ticket of $225. 

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