Strong winds to generate rough surf, rip currents along eastern Florida beaches

Strong winds to generate rough surf, rip currents along eastern Florida beachesAs spring break kicks off for some colleges across the United States this weekend, those planning to enjoy some fun in the sun on the beaches of eastern Florida should be mindful of potentially treacherous ocean conditions.High pressure will begin to build into the eastern U.S. this weekend and produce an early preview of spring.Dry and seasonally warm conditions will also settle over the Southeast, but a prolonged period of winds from the northeast and then east will lead to rip currents along the east coast of Florida, according to AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Paul Walker. Gusty winds on the southern side of the area of high pressure will be situated over Florida through the weekend and into the beginning of next week.Wind gusts up to 20-30 mph are possible along the central and southern coasts of Florida. This will help to stir up the waters, creating hazardous beach conditions.CLICK HERE FOR THE FREE ACCUWEATHER APPStrong winds and a long fetch over the Atlantic Ocean will create wave heights of 5-7 feet along the Florida coast and north-facing shores of far northern Bahamas.Rough surf will also increase the risk for rip currents to form along the coastline from Jacksonville Beach to West Palm Beach.The rip currents could cause lifeguards and other local officials to close access to the ocean for a time.Spring breakers and vacationers flocking to Florida's east coast could be forced to delay time spent in the water until next week."[If beaches are open] be sure to swim in lifeguard-covered areas and pay attention to any warnings," Walker said."If caught in a rip current, try to swim parallel to the coast to escape the rip current and then swim safely back to shore," he explained. Winds will begin to relax across Florida on Tuesday and into the middle of the week as the area of high pressure sinks south. Rough seas and the risk for rip currents will gradually subside as spring break festivities continue.Keep checking back on and stay tuned to the AccuWeather Network on DirecTV, Frontier and Verizon Fios.