Emergency personnel talk escaping a rip current - WMBFNews.com, Myrtle Beach/Florence SC, Weather

Emergency personnel talk escaping a rip current

Beach patrol safely pulled swimmers out of the water in the area of Second Avenue Pier Thursday night. (Source: Maid Dusinovic) Beach patrol safely pulled swimmers out of the water in the area of Second Avenue Pier Thursday night. (Source: Maid Dusinovic)

HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) – Strong rip currents led to 56 water rescues across the Grand Strand on Thursday.

According to information from the National Weather Service in Wilmington, N.C., 25 water rescues were done in the Surfside Beach area.

An additional 20 were handled in the Myrtle Beach area, while another 11 water rescues took place in North Myrtle Beach, according to the NWS.

The number of people rescued dropped drastically Friday to just seven. Officials with the National Weather Service said they were not anticipating such a high number of rip currents, and knowing when they will occur can be difficult to predict.

"The science of rip current forecasting has only evolved in the last 10 to 15 years too. What we've learned is what swell patterns to look for, and we're still tweaking our forecast methodology, trying to find out what is the best way to forecast these events." said Tim Armstrong, with the NWS.

Both beach patrol and NWS officials said the best way to escape is to let the current take a swimmer out, and then swim parallel to the beach by going north or south.

Rip currents are typically very narrow and easier to go around.

"Most of the time they (lifeguards) recognize you're in trouble before you even know yourself. So chances are they're going to be headed out to the water already. If not, throw your arms up, give some type of signal if possible. Just don't try to fight the current, because that's what will exhaust you and get you into more trouble." said Josh Stevens, with the North Myrtle Beach Beach Patrol.

Video of one of Thursday's rescues was sent to WMBF News via Facebook by Maid Dusinovic. Mobile app users can view it by clicking here.

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