Windy conditions mean increased risk of rip currents - KBJR 6 Your Weather Authority: News, Weather & Sports

Windy conditions mean increased risk of rip currents

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To Minnesota Sea Grant extension educator Jesse Schomberg, August 17th 2003 was a turning point for Duluth.

"It was kind of a big eye-opener for a lot of folks in this area that we actually do have rip currents on Park Point and in Lake Superior," he said.

On that day, one man rescued six people off the shores of Park Point and the Fire Department rescued another, but 21-year-old Matthew Rheaume drowned.

"At that point I got involved and I started learning more about rip currents; started trying to find folks in this area that were interested and its led to a lot of good work since that time," Schomberg said.

Since then, the city, Sea Grant and the fire department established the flag system with red flags warning of potentially dangerous conditions and posted signs explaining how to recognize and escape rip currents.

"We're seeing that folks are willing, since they know what they are now, folks are willing to go out and do rescues or folks get in one and they know what it is and are able to escape," Schomberg said.

With that development, they're working to make it easier and safer for those who come to the rescue.

They installed these flotation rescue rings so people can throw out a lifeline, without having to get in the water.

"We've seen people out here on our beach go out in those cheap PVC kind of inner tubes to try to rescue folks, which is great that they do it but if that cheap thing pops now you have a couple people in trouble," Schomberg said.

This summer will be the first since these four stations were installed on Park Point and while they hope they never get used Schomberg and the fire department hope it serves as reminder of the dangers beneath the waves.

Duluth's Park Point beach hasn't seen a drowning incident since 2003 but has had a few major rip current rescues since then.

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