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Dangerous seas, rip currents to threaten areas hundreds of miles away from Barry

By Alex Sosnowski, AccuWeather senior meteorologist
July 14, 2019, 3:14:49 AM EDT

Despite the center of Barry now being over land, rough seas will continue to be stirred across the Gulf of Mexico through the weekend.

Rip currents are rivers of water that flow from the beach and out to sea in narrow channels. These tend to form in breaks between sand bars, near jetties and points of land that extend seaward.

However, rip currents can form and dissipate, shift, strengthen and weaken with the changing tide and when storms are approaching or departing.

Rip current July 22

Barry's large circulation is disturbing waters over much of the Gulf of Mexico.

"While the brunt of the wind, rain and dangerous surf from Barry is focusing on Louisiana, Gulf coast communities hundreds of miles away are feeling effects from the storm in the form of rough surf," according to AccuWeather Meteorologist Reneé Duff.

rip currents graphic barry july 11 2019

"While a lull in downpours along Florida's west coast may have people flocking to the beaches this weekend, anyone entering the water will need to exercise caution as the frequency and intensity of rip currents will be higher than usual," Duff said.

Even before Barry was named, a man drowned amid the rough waters that had developed off the western coast of Florida on Tuesday. Thomas Zakrewski, 46, and his 8-year-old daughter were struggling in the water along the shore of North Captiva Island, which is located offshore of Fort Myers.

Zakrewski was able to pass the daughter to his wife, but he was not able to escape and disappeared into the water, according to a statement from the Lee County Sheriff's Office. His body was later discovered.

Near Destin, Florida, on Friday, a law enforcement officer was treated for facial cuts after a powerful wave churned up by Barry broke the windshield of a boat, according to the Okaloosa County Sheriff's Office Twitter page.

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An uptick in rip currents can occur all the way to the Texas and Mexico coasts.

Bathers should heed all local warnings pertaining to dangerous surf conditions.

Small craft operators should consider remaining in port and securing their vessels along the Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama coastlines, as well as the western part of the Florida Panhandle.

Small craft should remain close to port elsewhere in the Gulf until the storm has moved inland after a couple of days.

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