Tropical Storm Arthur, rapidly making its way up the East Coast, is predicted to become a hurricane by Thursday afternoon. While Fourth of July festivities in Ocean City won’t be a total wash, the National Hurricane Center is advising beachgoers to be aware of dangerous rip currents.
Swimmers and surfers are urged to be very cautious and follow safety protocols even though the storm is expected to be well off the Delmarva coast.
"We don’t think Tropical Storm Arthur will have any direct impact on Ocean City but any time a storm passes it results in increased surf conditions," said Butch Arbin, captain of the Ocean City Beach Patrol, adding that he expects to see increased rip currents.
"The weather will actually be beautiful since the storm is so far off shore and everyone, as a result, will want to be on the beach. After the storm passes, though, the rip currents remain," Arbin said.
"So as the beach gets densely populated, the water conditions will remain dangerous and people will, consequently, have to be that much more careful and aware of their surroundings, even if it is hot and sunny out."
Dangerous swimming conditions have contributed to the deaths of two teenagers already this summer season in Ocean City.
The United States Lifesaving Association (USLA) explains that a rip current can be identified by either "a channel of churning, choppy water, an area having a notable difference in water color, a line of foam, seaweed, or debris moving steadily seaward or a break in the incoming wave pattern."
The nonprofit group of lifeguards and open water rescuers also advise beachgoers to never swim alone and, if caught in a rip current, to not fight against it, but rather to "swim out of the current in a direction following the shoreline."