Double red flags mean stay out of the water. Tropical Storm Barry has stirred up the Gulf and riptides are likely.

As the newly named tropical storm Barry headed for points west, lifeguards up and down the Emerald Coast worked hard to keep people out of the dangerous surf.

Double red flags were flying on beaches from Santa Rosa to Walton County, under skies that were intermittently sunny and stormy.

 

"Over our 26 miles (of beach) we've had sunny skies and angry people," Walton Beach Safety Director David Vaughn said. "It's a beautiful morning."

He said they were struggling to keep people out of the Gulf, which was expected to see 8-foot waves by this afternoon.

"I am praying for rain," he said.

Beach safety officials in Destin were called to at least one swimmer in distress late Thursday morning.

In Santa Rosa County, officials issued a warning about dangerous rip currents, in effect from Thursday morning through Sunday afternoon.

"Residents and visitors are warned that even if skies are clear, the surf will be dangerous for all levels of swimmers," the warning said.

Rip currents, on average, kill more people in Florida than hurricanes, tornadoes and lightning combined, the release said.

There have been at least 12 rip current deaths in Florida, the release continued, citing National Weather Service Surf Zone Fatalities data. Four were in Panama City, while three were in Destin.