National Weather Service United States Department of Commerce

Preliminary data on fatalities which occurred in the surf zones across National Weather Service areas of forecast responsibility through August 31, 2018. This data is preliminary and may not be completely accurate. Click on a state with surf zone fatalities in 2018 for a more detailed view.

map showing rip current fatalities in 2018. See list below for equivalent information.

 

rip current fatality Rip Currents
high surf fatality High Surf
sneaker wave fatality location Sneaker Waves
other, longshore wave Other
other surf death

Unknown


 

Rip
Current

High
Surf

Sneaker
Wave

Other

Not
Known

Location

ST

M/F

Age

Date

  X       Indian Sands Trail OR M 21 1/3
  X       Kamaole Beach Park HI M 50 1/18
  X       Near Depoe Bay OR M ? 1/18
  X       Kamaole Beach Park HI M 67 1/20
  X       Maluaka Beach HI M 71 1/27
X         Oysterville Beach WA F 46 2/2
X         Long Beach Peninsula WA F 61 2/2
X         Ritidian Point GU M 38 2/13
X         Coral Cove Park FL M 13 2/15
      X   Bob Hall Pier TX M 20 3/16
X         Padre Island TX F 14 3/16
X         Navarre Beach FL M ? 3/25
X         Fort Morgan AL M 17 3/25
X         Jupiter FL M 46 4/3
  X       Kitty Hawk Beach NC M 4 4/25
X         Daytona Beach FL M 32 4/27
      X6   College Creek Beach VA M 25 5/4
X         Cocoa Beach FL F 40 5/5
X         Saint Augustine Beach FL M 18 5/13
X         Massengale Park Beach GA M 39 5/13
X         Massengale Park Beach GA F 34 5/13
X         Siesta Key FL M 59 5/18
  X       Panama City Beach FL M 5 5/19
X         Panama City Beach FL M 31 5/25
X         Miramar Beach FL M 28 5/25
X         Horace Caldwell Pier TX F 52 5/30
X         Panama City Beach FL M 61 5/31
        X Buxton NC M 79 6/3
X         Frisco NC M 55 6/6
X         St. Joseph Peninsula FL M 38 6/3
X         Ocracoke Island NC M 55 6/6
X         Rockaway Beach OR M 50 6/6
X         Rockaway Beach OR M 17 6/6
  X       Pacific Beach CA M 26 6/12
X         Atlantic Beach NC M 48 6/15
X         Panama City Beach FL M 67 6/16
X         Lido Key Beach FL M ? 6/17
  X       M.B. Miller County Pier FL M 21 6/17
X         Panama City Beach FL M 15 6/19
X         Panama City Beach FL M 60 6/19
X         Long Beach NY M 10 6/19
      X2   Gilchrist TX M 34 6/26
X         Avon NC M 48 6/28
X         Cowell Beach CA F 47 7/1
X         Surf City Beach NJ M 55 7/4
X         Areicibo PR M 29 7/4
      X4   Loyola Beach IL F 13 7/6
  X       Kill Devils Hill NC M 62 7/7
        X Ocean Grove Beach NJ M 42 7/9
X         Ormond-By-The-Sea FL M 61 7/11
        X Duck NC F 43 7/13
X         Southern Shores NC M 32 7/19
X         Holden Beach NC M 20 7/21
      X   Wrightsville Beach NC M ? 7/21
X         Sunset Beach NC M ~40 7/21
X         Emerald Isle NC M 41 7/25
X         Okaloosa Island FL M 19 8/1
X         Dauphin Island AL M 17 8/2
X         Dauphin Island AL M 47 8/2
X         Miami Beach FL M 35 8/2
        X Cocoa Beach FL M 50 8/5
X         Destin Beach FL M 53 8/5
X         Opal Beach FL M 41 8/5
X         Emerald Isle NC M 40 8/5
  X       Grand Haven State Park MI M 64 8/5
  X       Grand Haven State Park MI M 20 8/5
          Bogue Sound NC M 29 8/10
        X Waukegan Harbor IL M 14 8/17
          Indiana Dunes State Park IN M 10 8/18
      X   Indiana Dunes State Park IN M 14 8/18
X         Seabrook Beach NH M 49 8/19
X         Seabrook Beach NH F 47 8/20
        X Geneva-On-The Lakes OH M 20 8/20
          Walnut Beach OH M 16 8/21
  X   X1   Myrtle Beach SC M 41 8/24
      X1   Myrtle Beach SC M 73 8/24
47 14 0 10 6         Total: 77

1: longshore current, 2: tidal current, 3: outlet current, 4: structural current, 5: shore break, 6: strong current , 7. channel current
*American Samoa, ? : unknown

Accurately tracking these types of fatalities is difficult because so many go unreported and undocumented. Due to the difficult nature of tracking surf zone fatalities; these data may not match other sources.

  • Surf Zone: area of water between the high tide level on the beach and the seaward side of the breaking waves. The NWS officially categorizes surf zone fatalities caused by three types of hazards; Rip Current, High Surf and Sneaker Wave (see definitions below).
  • Rip Current: A relatively small-scale surf-zone current moving away from the beach. Rip currents form as waves disperse along the beach causing water to become trapped between the beach and a sandbar or other underwater feature. The water converges into a narrow, river-like channel moving away from the shore at high speed.
  • High Surf: Large waves breaking on or near the shore resulting from swells spawned by a distant storm.
  • Sneaker Wave: Large wave that suddenly swamps a beach/coast and takes people by surprise sweeping them into the water.

Occasionally, there are surf zone fatalities caused by other hazards such as unusual waves and currents. These hazards fall in the “Other” category. “Other” is not an official category defined by the NWS. Rip Currents cause a large of percentage of the surf zone fatalities in the United States. Typically, a victim of a surf zone hazard is a male between the ages of 10-29. Most of the fatalities occur during the months of June and July and in the NWS Southern Region.

NWS started tracking these statistics in 2013. We do not have breakdowns before 2013.

California Surf Zone Fatalities Florida Surf Zone Fatalities Oregon Surf Zone Fatalities Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Islands Surf Zone Fatalities New Jersey surf deaths in New York surf deaths in Alabama surf deaths in Michigan surf deaths in Hawaii Surf Deaths Indiana Surf Deaths Wisconsin Surf Deaths North Carolina Indiana Surf Deaths Texas Surf Deaths Maryland Surf Deaths Massachusetts Surf Deaths