PUBLIC INFORMATION STATEMENT
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE MELBOURNE FL
700 AM EST TUE JAN 26 2010

...JANUARY 26 IS MARINE HAZARDS AND RIP CURRENT AWARENESS DAY...

BOATING ACCIDENTS RESULT IN AN AVERAGE OF 14 DEATHS AND 98 INJURIES 
EACH YEAR ON EAST CENTRAL FLORIDA WATERWAYS. MOST OF THESE DEATHS
AND INJURIES OCCUR DUE TO CARELESSNESS...RECKLESSNESS OR NAVIGATIONAL
RULES VIOLATIONS...BUT BOATERS ARE ALSO VULNERABLE TO ADVERSE WEATHER
CONDITIONS THAT CAN OCCUR AT ANY TIME OF THE YEAR. 

EAST CENTRAL FLORIDA HAD TEN WEATHER-RELATED DEATHS IN 2009. OF THIS
TOTAL...NINE OCCURRED IN THE MARINE ENVIRONMENT. STRONG THUNDERSTORM
WINDS CAPSIZED BOATS IN TWO CASES DURING MAY AND JUNE...RESULTING IN
FIVE DEATHS. THERE WERE ALSO THREE DROWNINGS CAUSED BY RIP CURRENTS
AND ONE HIGH SURF FATALITY. THESE STATISTICS POINT OUT THE HIGH
VULNERABILITY OF THOSE IN THE MARINE ENVIRONMENT...AND THE NEED TO
KEEP INFORMED OF WEATHER HAZARDS.

THEREFORE...STAY AWARE OF WEATHER THREATS TO REMAIN SAFE WHILE
ENJOYING A DAY OUT ON THE WATER. NOAA WEATHER RADIO IS AN EXCELLENT
SOURCE OF CONTINUOUS WEATHER INFORMATION...INCLUDING WARNINGS AND
ADVISORIES FOR RAPIDLY CHANGING AND DANGEROUS WEATHER CONDITIONS.

RIP CURRENTS...SOMETIMES ERRONEOUSLY REFERRED TO AS RIP TIDES OR
UNDERTOWS...OCCUR NATURALLY AND AFFECT MOST OF THE SURF BEACHES ALONG
THE EAST CENTRAL FLORIDA COAST. THESE CURRENTS CAN POSE A HIGH THREAT
TO UNSUSPECTING BEACHGOERS. RIP CURRENTS CAN BE REFERRED TO AS THE
FAIR WEATHER KILLER BECAUSE THEY OFTEN OCCUR WHEN THE WEATHER IS NICE.
DURING THE PAST 20 YEARS...RIP CURRENTS HAVE CLAIMED MORE LIVES IN
EAST CENTRAL FLORIDA THAN ANY OTHER WEATHER RELATED HAZARD INCLUDING
HURRICANES...TORNADOES AND LIGHTNING.

A RIP CURRENT IS A STRONG CHANNEL OF WATER FLOWING OUT PAST THE SURF
ZONE THAT CAN PULL EVEN THE STRONGEST SWIMMER INTO DEEPER WATER BEYOND
THE SAND BAR. MOST DEATHS OCCUR WHEN PEOPLE CAUGHT IN A RIP CURRENT TRY
TO SWIM TOWARD SHORE DIRECTLY AGAINST THE CURRENT...BECOME TOTALLY
EXHAUSTED AND DROWN. SOMETIMES...WOULD BE RESCUERS ALSO DROWN. BY
UNDERSTANDING HOW A RIP CURRENT WORKS...PEOPLE CAN ESCAPE THIS FATE.

RIP CURRENTS ARE NORMALLY ONLY ABOUT 10 TO 30 YARDS WIDE...AND THE BEST
ESCAPE IS TO WADE OR SWIM SIDEWAYS ACROSS THE CURRENT...PARALLEL TO SHORE.
THE RIP CURRENT WEAKENS RAPIDLY ONLY A RELATIVELY SHORT DISTANCE SEAWARD
OF THE SAND BAR...AND THUS ANOTHER MEANS OF ESCAPE FOR A STRONGER SWIMMER
IS TO FLOAT WITH THE CURRENT OUT BEYOND THE BREAKERS...THEN SWIM SHOREWARD
AT AN ANGLE AWAY FROM THE CURRENT.

THE BEST SAFETY ADVICE IS TO ALWAYS SWIM AT GUARDED BEACHES AND SEEK THE
ADVICE OF THE BEACH PATROL BEFORE ENTERING THE SURF. YOUR CHANCES OF
DROWNING ARE VERY LOW WHEN SWIMMING WITHIN SIGHT OF A LIFEGUARD. NEVER
SWIM ALONE. DO NOT ENTER THE OCEAN IF YOU ARE A WEAK SWIMMER. THE VAST
MAJORITY OF RIP CURRENT VICTIMS ARE EITHER TOURISTS...OR FLORIDIANS WHO
LIVE AWAY FROM THE COAST AND ARE NOT INFORMED ABOUT OCEAN HAZARDS. THOSE
PLAYING HOST TO VISITORS SHOULD MAKE SURE THEY ARE AWARE OF THE THREATS
THAT EXIST IN THE SURF ZONE. 
 
THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN MELBOURNE ISSUES DAILY HAZARDOUS WEATHER
OUTLOOKS WHICH INCLUDE INFORMATION ABOUT STRONG THUNDERSTORMS...AS WELL
AS DANGEROUS WIND AND WAVE CONDITIONS. THE RIP CURRENT THREAT IS ALSO
FORECAST ON A SCALE RANGING FROM LOW TO MODERATE TO HIGH. THIS INFORMATION
CAN BE OBTAINED VIA NOAA WEATHER RADIO...TELEVISION AND RADIO...OR BY
VISITING THE MELBOURNE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE WEBSITE AT
WEATHER.GOV/MELBOURNE AND CLICKING ON THE HAZARDS IMAGE.

$$

LASCODY

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