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Red flag advisory up as Hurricane Fiona sends rip currents to Virginia Beach Oceanfront

Strong rip currents, gusty winds and big waves caused a red flag advisory to go into effect at the Oceanfront, Outer Banks and across the East Coast

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — Hurricane Fiona is miles away from Virginia Beach's Oceanfront, but the storm's effects kept the beach largely empty. 

Strong rip currents, gusty winds and big waves caused a red flag advisory to go into effect. The flags mean beachgoers should not go swimming in the water, due to an increase in rip currents.

A rip current is a strong, narrow current of water moving directly away from the shore. The big waves might look inviting, but the current underneath can be dangerous. 

"It is not surfable, it is not even swimmable at this point with these high winds," said Tom Gill, the chief of Virginia Beach Lifesaving Services. "When all the best surfers would be out there any morning, and every morning... and they are not getting into it, then you don't want to be into it."

Lifeguards could be seen patrolling the beach from 1st Street to 42nd Street, encouraging people to stay out of the water. 

Gill said beachgoers would not see the lifeguard stands, or the red flags, because they are nearing the season's end. However, this does not mean their authority is at an end.

"We don't enforce, we advise and we tell people what we have to do and we can say these are overly dangerous conditions and if you are disregarding the safety advice of a lifeguard, then the police could come down and do something about that," said Gill.

Gill said police have not been called in and there were no water rescues.

There could be more red flag advisories issued throughout the weekend, as Hurricane Fiona moves up and away from the East Coast. 

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