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Rip current risk up, number of lifeguards down this weekend

READ MORE: Rip current risk up, number of lifeguards down this weekend

WRIGHTSVILLE BEACH, NC (WWAY) -- All week we've been keeping an eye on a monster storm out at sea. Hurricane Igor won't come close to our shores, but like other storms before him, he'll make his impact felt along our coast. And with summer over, there's less help on the beach if you get into trouble.

Friday waves were already crashing into Johnny Mercer's Pier at Wrightsville Beach, and the waves and the rip current risk this weekend are only going to get higher.

"If you're not an experienced person in the water and you (don't) surf all the time, now is not the time to start," said Jeremy Owens with Wrightsville Beach Ocean Rescue.

Lifeguards are warning people to stay out of the ocean, but some visitors can't resist.

"I'm from Pennsylvania, and this rip tide, or rip current, is it? Not gonna affect my weekend at all," vacationer Eric Bombeck said. "I'm going out and surfing."

That's what has lifeguards worried. While the surf is up, with the summer tourism season over, the number of lifeguards on the beach is down.

"Normally, we run 13 lifeguard stands during peak season with four rotating patrols up and down the beach. We're down to four lifeguard stands and three rotating patrols," said Owens, who knows being short-staffed on a weekend like this is potentially dangerous for swimmers. "Any time we see large surfs and dangerous rips, we definitely see an increase in rescues and an increase in surfing accidents out here. Bringing a couple extra people on to be prepared for that this weekend."

Red flags will be flying on all the beaches this weekend, and lifeguards are urging beachgoers to stay out of the water.

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