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Rip Reporting Study
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The United States Lifesaving Association is seeking the assistance of lifeguard organizations at eligible ocean and Great Lakes beaches in a national rip current pilot project partnership with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Weather Service and Sea Grant. Your lifeguard organization’s participation offers unique benefits to beach safety and drowning prevention in your area and will help form a strong partnership with your local Weather Forecast Office (WFO). Some lifeguard organizations are already involved and have proven the value of this project. We'd like to enroll every lifeguard organization that's eligible. (This is not limited to USLA certified lifeguard organizations.)

What This Involves: Twice per day, a representative of your lifeguard organization will report several observations to the WFO in your area. This should take about two minutes per report. The observations will include the presence and strength of rip currents, surf height, daily rescue activity, water attendance, additional comments, and the name of the person reporting. Additional optional parameters may also be included, depending on what is agreed upon between your organization and the WFO. You'll be able to file the reports online using an Internet connected computer or smartphone. Lifeguards without online access may directly phone in observations to their respective local WFO.

Why This Is Needed: The National Weather Service is constantly working to ensure maximum accuracy of their predictions and reports on current conditions. By receiving regular observations from trained lifeguards, they can back-test their predictions to help improve accuracy and update the public in real time regarding current conditions. This will help inform the public of anticipated and actual conditions, which will help you ensure the safety of the public. Your participation is essential to the success of this program.

How You Can Participate: If your area is included in the list of areas with a WFO participating in the pilot project and your lifeguard organization would like to be involved, please complete the expression of interest form. This needs to be approved by the head lifeguard or administrator to ensure their agreement, but anyone may advise us of a lifeguard organization's interest in participating via the form. Once you have completed the form, the local WFO will be in contact. They will work with your organization to create a beach description involving natural and human-made conditions that contribute to rip current formation; description of seasonal changes in bathymetry; and other baseline information. You’ll discuss the location of permanent or semi-permanent rip currents.

NOTE: If you are not in an area listed below, with a participating WFO, you may still fill out the expression of interest form. In that case, we may not respond to your expression of interest until and unless the local WFO chooses to participate.

Which Areas May Participate: The WFOs participating in the rip current pilot are in the following geographic areas of the USA, so your lifeguard organization must be in one of these areas:

The ocean coastlines of (east to west):

  • Massachusetts
  • Rhode Island
  • Connecticut
  • New York
  • Fenwick Island, Delaware south to Virginia
  • Virginia
  • North Carolina
  • South Carolina from the northern border to South Santee River
  • Florida (with exception of the Florida Keys)
  • Alabama
  • Texas from High Island to Port Aranas
  • California from the Mexican Border to Seal Beach (San Diego and Orange counties)

The Great Lakes coastlines of:

  • Lake Superior: From Saxon Harbor, WI to Whitefish Point, MI
  • Lake Michigan: From Winthrop Harbor, IL to St. Joseph, MI
  • Lake Michigan: From Green Bay North of Line from Cedar River, MI to Rock Island Passage
  • Lake Michigan: From Seul Choix Point, MI to Point Detour, MI

Those Already Participating:

  • California: Huntington Beach, San Diego, Moonlight State Beach, San Clemente, and Oceanside
  • Florida: Jacksonville Beach, Daytona Beach
  • Illinois: Highland Beach
  • Indiana: Indiana Dunes State Park, West Beach
  • Indiana: Warren Dunes State Park
  • Michigan: Silver Beach County Park
  • New York: Hither Hills State Park, Jones Beach, Ocean Beach, Robert Moses State Park, Smiths Point
  • North Carolina: Kill Devil Hills, Emerald Isle, Carolina Beach, NC
  • South Carolina: Surfside, Myrtle Beach, North Myrtle Beach, Wrightsville Beach
  • Texas: South Packery

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