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Dangerous Rip Currents

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  • Pages: 7
  • Word count: 1515
  • Category: Ocean

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Most peoples biggest fear about the ocean is being attacked by sharks; although, what they really should be worried about is drowning in the oceans strong currents with nothing to grab or hold on to and nothing around them but water. Many underestimate the strength and the aggressiveness of the rip tides that have the ability to pull them out to sea and eventually take their life. Rip tides are the most hazardous natural disaster for people that go to the beach on a regularly basis. It is also recorded by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration that more then 80% of life guard Rescues are caused by rip currents. A rip current is a strong flow of water running on the surface from a beach back to the open ocean, sea, or lake. Over 100 drownings a year in the united states are due to rip currents as they suck the victim out to sea leaving the swimmer in distress and unable to swim back. Most victims suffer from either the lack of swimming skills, panic, or the loss of energy. An example of the latest research about rip currents show that in Florida they have the highest deaths than there other natural disasters like hurricanes, tropical storms, lightening and tornadoes combined.

4.5 Billion years ago when earth was being made, Gasses would seek through molted rock, huge clouds of gasses form in the atmosphere, some left to outer space, as the heavier elements sank in to the core, the light elements stayed on the planet such as hydrogen and oxygen. Therefore, planet Earth was handed by mother nature its magnificent ocean. Most of the water on this earth today was here 4 billion years ago, but still today new water is being produced due to erupting volcanos.

Waves form from two different ways, one being the moon, and the other being wind. The moon has a gravitational pull that pulls the water in the ocean. since the moon is a lot smaller compared to the earth, the pull isn’t very strong and the water eventually will flow back down giving into gravity. When the water goes back down to the surface, this is called a wave. The second way a wave is formed is by wind. The wind will push the water around creating high tides which will lead to larger waves. This is all caused by the wind pushing and pulling on the water it flows over. A wave has many different parts to it like its height, length, crest, and trough. The wave height is how tall the wave can be. The wave length is the period from which one wave follows after the other. The wave crest is the highest point on the wave, and the wave trough is the lowest point on the wave.

The difference between a rip tide and rip current is that a rip current is detected at knee high water level, but once that person gets chest level with the water, it is difficult and almost impossible for them to walk back to shore. These waves are generally around two to three feet high and about tens of feet in width. It is usually an area where the water is flowing back and there is a break in the sand bar forming a rip current. These usually start hundreds of feet off shore. A rip tide is a powerful current caused by the tide pulling through an inlet along a barrier beach. They are usually found in barricaded areas such as bays and lagoons where waves do not occur. These are caused by constriction of tidal flow. In order to escape this, you must wave to get the attention of boaters, lifeguards or fisher men. These are usually found close to ten feet off shore. In the ocean, a combination of nature result in rip tides: the pull of the moon and sun, as well as the spinning of the earth all have to do with rip tides.

Rip currents are formed when big waves that are coming in to shore as they break hard in some places and week in others making the water circulate and later resulting in a dangerous rip current. In some regions today, Rip currents appear suddenly at any given time, when in some regions currents are permanent. Although rip tides and currents are found at almost all surf beaches, they are usually found at irregular beaches. Any place where there are breaking waves. They usually form where there are sand dooms, but always form in beaches where there are sandbars or reef. Beaches with hurricanes results in strong rip currents and is very dangerous. It is never recommended to chance it during this time. During hurricane season, it is named to be the greatest chance of rip tides to occur. Massachusetts, Minnesota, Texas the Gulf of Mexico, and Hawaii the Pacific ocean are notified that rip currents are at high risk because of the prediction of huge powerful waves.

Rip currents are fed by longshore currents. Each body of rip current consist of a neck and head. The neck is where the water meets the land and flows aggressively back into the open sea, where the head is located at the widest parts of the rip current. The typical rip tide moves at the rate of one to two feet per second, but there had been records of speeds of water moving at 8 feet per second.The strength and speed of the rip current increases only if the height and the period of the wave length also increases. They can travel at the speed of five miles in hour. Rip currents start at low spots or breaks. They can be very narrow or wide as hundreds of feet. Sometimes, if you’re caught in one and you are lucky, the rip current will stop at the line where the waves break and you can swim back, but sometimes you could not be so lucky and the current will take you one hundred yards away from shore.

You can identify rip currents from a channel of churning and choppy waters, difference in color in a certain area, or seaweed and marine debris that are moving away from the shore. Although it sounds easy to point out choppy waters with debris floating back to the ocean, It is not easy to identify rip currents, even for someone that goes to the beach on a regular. If you are in doubt about going into the water, you must not go in and put your life endanger. Having polarized glasses may help identify a rip current.

There are myths about rip tides. People usually mistake rip currents for undertow and that it pulls the swimmer under the water and kills them. An undertow is a subsurface flow of water returning seaward from shore as a result of wave action. Swimmers feel like they are being pulled under the wave when it eventually breaks over their head. An undertow is a specific type of shore current that deposits material such as creating sand bars. They are found below surfaces of rushing water after it comes ashore as a breaking wave. Rip currents may form from undertows. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration states that people get pulled under water because simply they cannot swim and keep themselves afloat. Undertow is a current also but it is one that moves along the bottom of the ocean floor and can pull a swimmer down and drown them. The cause of this is waves breaking on the beach shore. Undertows are usually not life threatening but you are able to escape these between breaking waves. The rip currents are the ones that flow on the surface of the ocean.

Rip currents aren’t always a hazard to Surfers. They don’t have to use their energy to paddle out, because they take advantage of the rip current to take them out to the surf. Rip currents usually calm down when they reach the surfing point or the breaking area so the surfer will be energized to handle the big waves.

Someways you can avoid rip currents is to learn how to swim if you don’t know how to. Always be cautious when you enter the beach. You must pay attention to all the signs on the beach and to your surroundings in the water. If you are a non experienced swimmer you must make sure that you are swimming in a lifeguard protected beach. If somehow you are caught in a rip current, you must remain calm, think clearly and do not fight it. Make sure if you do try to fight to save your life you must swim parallel to shore until you feel no current then you may swim back to land. If you have no chance of making it out, remain calm, face the beach and wave your arms in the air as you call for help. Again if you are in doubt don’t go out.

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