Hurricane Maria to roughen Brevard beach conditions

Brevard lifeguards expecting hurricane swells, riptide dangers

By James Sparvero - Reporter

COCOA BEACH, Fla. - Hundreds of miles offshore, Hurricane Maria is churning its way up the Atlantic Ocean and Brevard County lifeguards are warning beachgoers of conditions they say could be potentially dangerous and life-threatening. 

"These are conditions that can put somebody in harm's way if they don't know exactly what they're getting into," Brevard County Ocean Rescue Chief Eisen Witcher said.

Witcher advised surfers and swimmers to use extra caution near the water this weekend.

"It's going to be a rough weekend. After hurricanes or any kind of large swell that comes through, the aftermath of rip currents and other erosion, that might happen on the beach," Witcher said.

Maria brought misery to millions of people  in the Caribbean earlier this week.

Closer to home, lifeguards expect waves on the coast as high as 10 feet.

"It's no secret. Yep, everybody will be here. They'll be plenty of people here," Chris Balba, who was surfing at the Cocoa Beach Pier Friday, said.

Like lifeguards, Balba, a surfing teacher, also respects the potential danger.

"During hurricane swell, it's definitely for people that know what they're doing, I would say. beginners and weak swimmers even, stay out of the water if it ends up being well overhead surf there," Balba said.

Witcher said the water can be enticing for surfers in those conditions, but advises them to be careful.

"If you do come out to the beach, make sure you're swimming in a lifeguard area. We can point out those dangers to you," Witcher said.

The chief said beachgoers should see the strongest conditions Saturday night and into Sunday.

Florida Aerial Imaging Services provided News 6 drone video for this report.

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