Knee deep is too deep: Understanding beach flags

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WALTON COUNTY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - This week, the panhandle is expecting rain and storms, with some areas projected to get about 10 inches of rain.

With the inclement weather often come red seas.

While Bay County's beach flags remained at yellow for most of the weekend, South Walton beaches were flying red flags.

According to beach safety officials in south Walton County, had seven rescues from Friday to Sunday afternoon, pulling a total 16 people from the waters.

David Vaughan, Beach Safety Director, said they want to remind people that the red flags indicate rough surf and dangerous rip currents.

He said the red flags indicate a combination of surf size, frequency, rip currents, lateral currents based on strength and direction of the winds, and whether the tide is coming in or going out (which makes rips worse).

Vaughan said on Saturday and Sunday they rescued people from "flash rips" where rip currents are made worse when a bigger set of waves comes in intermittently.

He said even if people are wading waist or chest deep or just past standing depth, they can be quickly pulled out and then they tend to panic.

Beach lifeguards, Vaughan said, will be marking off bad spots with signs and localized warning flags, as well as educating groups of people on the beaches.

Double red flags indicate no swimming allowed.