Debris in ocean closes beach swimming, driving in Volusia

Beach officials fly double red flag as warning

By Daniel Dahm - Digital Manager

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -  

It was a ghost town on Volusia County beaches, Tuesday afternoon.

Conservation poles used to keep vehicles away from beach dunes and vegetation were blown into the ocean off Volusia County, prompting officials to close beach driving and disallow swimming by any brave beachgoers.

"I wouldn't go anywhere near that water right now," Alfredo Ruiz said.

The poles and large pieces of wood, including portions of walkovers, ended up in the water, officials said Tuesday.

"Volusia County Beach Safety will be flying the double red flag due to large pieces of debris in the ocean," officials said. "This means no bather activity allowed on any part of Volusia County beaches."

[SEE BEACH FLAG MEANINGS AT BOTTOM OF STORY]

Beach officials said all of its conservation poles were lost.

"(The poles) need to be installed before we can open to driving," officials said. "We will be closed all day (Tuesday) and most likely the next couple of days. We will be utilizing all of our resources for cleanup."

Beach officials said large debris cannot be easily seen in the water and is very dangerous. Although with recent weather conditions in the Daytona Beach area, not many beachgoers would be swimming.

But until then, crews said there's absolutely no driving on the beach or swimming in the 6-to 10-foot waves.

"You don't want to go in the water right now anyway. It's freezing out here, the water's cold. It's not very good conditions," Capt. Tammy said Malphurs said.

Unless, you're into surfing.

"There's a couple guys out now, that I dropped off in Ormond that'll be coming by here in a bit," said Nick Colavito, owner of Punch Surfboards.

Colavito said he's not too concerned about the beach conditions and believes only advanced surfers should be out catching the waves.

"Especially in the winter, we get these swells, these nor'easters that come through and it's worth it. That's why we live here," said Colavito.

Beach Safety Patrol said beachgoers can expect to see the double red flag for the next couple of days.

A wind chill advisory was issued Tuesday morning for most of Central Florida as "feels like" temperatures dipped into the 20s and 30s across the region.

The cold weather has prompted Orlando-area attractions to close their water parks. Universal's Volcano Bay will be closed through Friday. Disney's Typhoon Lagoon and SeaWorld's Aquatica will be closed Tuesday. Disney's Blizzard Beach is closed through Saturday for refurbishment.

Snow flurries are possible in the northern zones of Central Florida as temperatures sink into the low 30s early Wednesday.

Snow fell in the Florida Panhandle about three weeks ago, covering the top of a "Welcome to Florida" sign.

Below are the meanings of the flags that fly at beaches:

Double red: Swimming is closed to the public
Single red: High hazard, like strong surf or currents
Yellow: Medium hazard
Green: Calm conditions although caution is still necessary
Purple: Flown with either Red or Yellow: Dangerous marine life

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