Santa Rosa Beach, Fla. - For the past few days, beach conditions along the Panhandle have been unsafe due to severe weather. Public safety officials are warning the public to exercise caution when visiting the area.
The severe weather has brought in rough surf conditions to South Walton. Lifeguards are manning their stations and advising locals and tourists to stay away from the water as double red flags are flying.
"What's going to happen over the next few days as the storm subsides and the sun comes back out, people will still be here through the weekend. As soon as we drop that flag from double red to red, people think that's a license to act crazy," said David Vaughan, SWFD Beach Safety Director.
On Tuesday, lifeguards were overwhelmed with the number of people that needed to be rescued. One man drowned and almost two dozen others were pulled from the Gulf of Mexico. Beach officials want to emphasis the flags are there for the public's safety.
"It's obviously frustrating. We understand that with the weather conditions being the way they are, there's not a lot that we can do. We spent all this money to come down here to one of the best beaches definitely on the coast," said Michael Workman, Kentucky Tourist.
"It's a little disappointing because we spent a lot of money to come down here and spent hours in the car with our girls and the beach is closed," explained Jeanine Kennedy, Atlanta Tourist.
"We don't like it. We wish it was sunnier," said a group of visiting elementary students.
Officials understand that tourists have spent time and money to get here, but safety is their number one priority. The beach will remain closed until the water is safe.
"It's very messy conditions out here. We are flying double red flags today because of the large surf. I would compare it to a washing machine out there. It's just a lot of movement and it does not make for great conditions to be in the water for anyone," explained Colin Perlaky, SWFD Lifeguard Supervisor.
If you find yourself in trouble while in the water, officials said the most important thing to remember is 'don't panic.'
"Remain calm. Raise an arm in the air, call for help and let the rip take you out. You will eventually be spit out," said Vaughan.
Beach safety officials are advising everyone to check their local conditions before entering the Gulf and remain safe.
As the severe weather continues in the area, lifeguards will stay on high alert.
Beach condition flag warnings:
-Green flag: Low hazard, calm conditions.
-Yellow flag: Medium hazard, moderate surf and conditions.
-Red flag: High hazard, rough conditions, such as strong surf and or currents.
-Double Red flag: Water is closed to the public. Absolutely no swimming.
-Purple flag: Dangerous marine life may be present.
Okaloosa County Sheriff's deputies are investigating a string of BB…
An Okaloosa County man is recovering in a hospital with serious…
There was a sea of pink at Aaron Bessant Park Saturday morning.…