What are rip tides?

The term ‘rip tide’ is a misnomer as it refers to a narrow directional flow of water that has nothing to do with the gravitational attraction of the Sun and Moon; it is more of a ‘rip current.’

When waves are pushed against the shore by high winds, the water can respond to the resistance that solid ground generates by travelling parallel to the coastline.

If some of it finds an underwater trench or a gap in a sand bar, it can be channelled rapidly back out to sea, pushed on by the force of the incoming waves.

As this all occurs beneath the surface, it can catch people unaware and so they often get swept out too.

Find the answer to more baffling questions in How It Works magazine. Order it in print, download the digital version or subscribe today to ensure you never miss an issue!

Plus, take a look at:

What are red tides?

Why don’t lakes have tides like the sea?

How do estuaries work?