Red Flags Remain in Place in Emerald IslePublic Still Advised To Stay Out of Ocean Until Further Notice - (Wednesday, June 21 - 10 am)
High Rip Current Risk Continues Along Much of North Carolina Coast
Red Flags Remain in Place in Emerald Isle
Due to continuing high rip current risks in Emerald Isle and much of the North Carolina coast, the public is advised to stay out of the ocean again today. The entire ~ 12 miles of ocean beach in Emerald Isle remain marked with RED FLAGS, and these flags will remain in place until conditions improve.
Red Flags Will Be Removed When Conditions Warrant
Emerald Isle Fire Department and Lifeguard staff will be monitoring conditions in Emerald Isle multiple times daily, and will be consulting the National Weather Service in order to determine when the conditions warrant removal of the flags and a return to normal recreational use of the ocean in Emerald Isle.
This decision will be communicated via numerous digital platforms, including the Town's website ( https://www.emeraldisle-nc.org/ ), the Town's Facebook page (Town of Emerald Isle, NC is the official page of Town government), the Town's Twitter feed (@townemeraldisle), via the Emerald Isle App (available for download - search Town of Emerald Isle, NC), and via the Town's email newsletter list (sign up at https://www.emeraldisle-nc.org/join-email-list ).
Emerald Isle Warning Flag System Explained
Emerald Isle adheres to warning flag standards established by the US Lifesaving Association, and uses the following warning flags:
RED FLAGS indicate high hazards and that the public is advised to stay out of the ocean. When used, which is very rare, Emerald Isle places RED FLAGS approximately every 1/4 mile or less along the beach strand, at the Town's two regional access facilities, on Town all-terrain vehicles providing services on the beach strand, and flies the RED FLAGS at the two Fire Stations. The Town is also working with the owner of Bogue Inlet Pier to hopefully add flags on the pier in the future.
YELLOW FLAGS indicate moderate hazards, and that the public should use caution in the ocean.
In Emerald Isle, other than RED FLAG days, we consider every beach day to be a YELLOW FLAG day, as there is always an inherent risk when entering the ocean and the public is always advised to use caution. The Town has not previously used completely YELLOW FLAGS (instead relying on combined flags - see below), but will soon begin using completely YELLOW FLAGS at the Town's two regional access facilities (which are served by lifeguards in the summer months), and on Town all-terrain vehicles providing services on the beach strand. The Town will also be flying YELLOW FLAGS at the two Fire Stations in the future, and is also working with the owner of Bogue Inlet Pier to hopefully add flags on the pier in the future.
Combined RED FLAGS and YELLOW FLAGS are used at the Town's two regional access facilities to signify that those areas are served by lifeguards, and are also affixed to the Town's all-terrain vehicles used by roving lifeguards. If the RED half of the flag is on top, it indicates high hazards and that the public should stay out of the ocean. If the YELLOW half of the flag is on top, it indicates moderate hazards, and that the public should use caution in the ocean. It is very rare that the RED half of the flag is on top, as Emerald Isle considers every beach day to be a YELLOW FLAG day.
Emerald Isle does not use GREEN FLAGS, which indicate safe conditions. In Emerald Isle, we consider every beach day to be a YELLOW FLAG day, and the public should always use caution in the ocean.
PURPLE FLAGS indicate an abundance of potentially hazardous marine life in the vicinity, including Portuguese man-o-war, jellyfish, and other creatures. Emerald Isle uses these flags as needed in specific locations, however, the use of PURPLE FLAGS is relatively rare.
Other Town Actions In Response to Recent and Current Threats
The Town is always seeking to improve our services and better inform our residents and visitors, and has already and/or will soon implement the following improvements:
- A portable electronic warning sign advising the public about rip current risks has been deployed near the Emerald Isle bridge. (Please note that NCDOT controls the fixed electronic signs, and does not allow their use for any purpose other than traffic information. The Town is diligently working to affect a change in NCDOT policy on this issue.)
- An additional all-terrain vehicle has been purchased, and the Town will add an additional roving lifeguard on the beach strand each day when we return to normal recreational use of the beach (switch back from RED FLAG conditions to normal YELLOW FLAG conditions). On normal summer days, the Town previously deployed 5 lifeguards (2 fixed and 3 roving) daily, but will now deploy 6 lifeguards (2 fixed and 4 roving) between 10 am and 5 pm daily. During the recent and current threat, 2 additional lifeguards have been on duty as needed, and lifeguard hours have been extended to earlier and later times in the day as needed.
- The Town is currently testing a new text message notification system that will be unveiled soon, and will enable residents and visitors to sign up for Emerald Isle text message alerts in the future.
Additional Beach Safety / Avoiding Rip Currents Information Sessions Scheduled For Saturday, June 24 at 9 am & Wednesday, June 28 at 6 pm
In light of the recent and current issues, the Town has scheduled two additional information sessions on Beach Safety / Avoiding Rip Currents. The Emerald Isle Fire Department and Lifeguard staff will present this helpful information on Saturday, June 24 at 9 am, and Wednesday, June 28 at 6 pm in the Town Board Meeting Room (7500 Emerald Drive). Please plan to attend!
Learn More, and Know What to Do in a Rip Current
Each of the Town's public access locations (large regional accesses and neighborhood accesses) include signage that explain what to do if you find yourself caught in a rip current. Please take the time to read it when you head out to the beach!
For current National Weather Service rip current forecasts, and an informative video about rip currents, please visit https://www.emeraldisle-nc.org/rip-currents-and-surf-forecast .
The graphic below includes concise, understandable guidance:
To learn more about beach safety, please visit https://www.emeraldisle-nc.org/safety .
PLEASE BE SAFE!