What is an Undertow?
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Being born and and raised in Florida I was constantly around the ocean. Not just because I lived on a houseboat half my life, but the fact that the ocean is a quality Florida thrives upon. We are known for our sandy beaches, hot sunshine, and our deep blue ocean. We are a top candidate when it comes to tourism at any given time of the year. The ocean is a beautiful quality to this world, and people continue to prove this. Due to fact that they travel all across the state to visit Florida for that reason alone.
But, remember where there is beauty in the world, danger can always linger near. The ocean can be a dangerous place for multiple reasons. From creatures that live below, or the waves that can come crashing down. Within saying that there are three main dangerous ocean currents you should know about. They are an undertow, a rip current, and a rip tide.
An undertow is when waves break along the ocean shore. The wave breaks once it hits the sandy shore. Once that occurs, gravity pulls backwards and the water is sucked right back into the ocean with little force. A rip current is an offshore flow of water that typically is narrow and flows outwards from the beach into the “surf zone.” It’s very powerful and presents danger for swimmers. There has been some misconceptions between the difference of an undertow and a rip current. Each are dangerous, and in a way work together to create this formation. But, still fall into there own categories. An undertow can be dangerous to children for example. If the water going back into the ocean is strong it can knock them right down with another wave swooping in. But, a rip current is the actual current that drags you back into the ocean at a very powerful speed. Here is a visual to help with further guidance:
A rip tide is an extremely powerful current caused by the tide. It occurs by water being pulled through the inlet of a beach barrier, in which forms a straight line. This formation creates the illusion that you are locked in a singular area, which makes it extremely difficult for people to get out. Rip tides and rip currents correspond with one another in the ocean.
So, next time you and your family decide to head down to the beautiful Emerald Coast to visit Ft Walton Beach or anywhere else in Florida near the water, keep these terms in mind! Stay educated and keep you and your loved ones safe. Always be on your toes, it could help save your life.