CLEARWATER — Parts of Clearwater Beach were closed at midday Thursday, and lifeguards were considering closing the rest of it as they watched the weather. Wind gusts were whipping a series of red "no swimming" flags that were posted near Pier 60.
"We have red flags on every lifeguard tower because of the high hazard — heavy surf, strong currents, high winds," said water safety supervisor Patrick Brafford. "Swimming is not advised today. It is not a day to be in the water."
Much of the sand had disappeared beneath the foamy surf. The beach was empty except for a few young men with boogie boards and about a dozen beach visitors leaning into the wind as they staggered along the water's edge.
"It's exhilarating," said Ohio tourist Kevin DeAngelis, "but a little scary."