Red flag warning delay, why a green flag may be waving even when it’s dangerous

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Tuesday around 2:15pm a red flag warning was announced for Park point beach, but there was a delay with getting the message to people at the beach. Most people were still having fun in the lake and a green flag was still waving in the air.

Fire crews are the ones responsible for sending out the red flag warning press releases and changing the flag poles. Their decision to initiate the warning is usually based on the national weather service.

Assistant Fire Chief Dennis Edwards explains saying, “The rip current warnings are weather predicted by the national weather service. But occasionally when there are changes in conditions they might be called in by a citizen or in Tuesday’s case, the lifeguards on duty recognized there were changing conditions."

After those conditions are confirm Edwards says, "What happens is one of the fire crews from headquarters has to go down and physically change five flags and multiple signs at all the beach entry points."

That’s where he says Tuesday’s red flag warning delay came from.

"We had multiple emergency calls going on at the same time. So as soon as a company frees up from those emergency calls, then they can go down there and change those flags. And when they get down to Park Point it takes up to an hour to go around and physically change all of the signs and flags."

So even though there press release and website were updated the flag and signage were not updated on time. So what happens during those long gaps? Well that’s where the lifeguards come in.

YMCA Risk and Safety Manager Cheryl Podtburg says, “The lifeguards talk to the people within their zone and within a little bit further. Just the people that they can see and say ‘hey this is getting a little dangerous.’"

And when it comes down to this gap both the lifeguards and fire crews hope residents and tourists are able to recognize when the lake waves are becoming more dangerous.