Hurricane Fiona brings rough surf, strong rip currents to Volusia County

Experts advise to not hit the waves as swells from Fiona close in

Though far away from Florida, Hurricane Fiona is creating rip current risk along the Central Florida coast.

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Category 4 Hurricane Fiona is moving away from Florida, but it’s bringing highly anticipated swells for surfers and strong rip currents.

“The morning (in) the first half of the day is going to be great. If you’re a surfer in Orlando, get over here. If you’re anywhere in Florida, get over here. North Central Florida is going to be the best for the swell because a lot of the swell is blocked down south,” Ryan Ragan, owner of Vast Ocean’s Surf School, said.

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Even for experienced surfers, Ragan said it’s going to risky Friday morning when the best swells are supposed to come into Volusia County this week. Waves are expected to be 6 feet and higher in some areas along the county’s coast.

“It’s absolutely very dangerous today. The outgoing tide and rip currents are so high, I wouldn’t even suggest swimming,” he said.

That’s a message Volusia Beach Safety is also putting out.

“Over the next couple of days, the surf is building. Please, if you’re a novice surfer, don’t come out here for the first time. It’s not the time to do it,” Deputy Chief Tammy Malphurs said.

As the waves cool down, Malphurs said other dangers will pick up.

“The surf will be decreasing going into the weekend, causing very hazardous rip current conditions,” she said.

She said it’s something to watch out for even in shallower water.

Ragan’s instructor, TJ, said they’ve already seen some close calls this week with it.

“It looks like it’s calm, but you get into thigh-high, and before you know it, you’re out, and you’re swooped out. It’s definitely something to pay attention to,” he said.

Malphurs said that even if someone is an advanced swimmer, they should stay in front of a lifeguard during these rough swells and download their Volusia Beaches cell phone app. There, you can see where lifeguards will be setting up that day.

About the Author:

Molly joined News 6 at the start of 2021, returning home to Central Florida.