Lifeguards are warning Labor Day beachgoers to use their heads when it comes to swimming in the ocean, because of potentially dangerous big waves, strong currents and extreme tides.
Thanks to waves churned up by Hurricane Ilena in the Southern Ocean, a big swell should produce breakers 5-8 feet today and tomorrow. The surf should start dying down Monday.
``It's really the perfect storm for a busy holiday. We do expect to be very busy," said Huntington Beach Marine Safety Lt. Mike Beuerlein told The Orange County Register. ``We are telling people about the big surf coming, and not to go into the water if they don't know how to swim."
Swimmers who find themselves being pulled offshore should swim parallel to shore until out of the current, then swim for the sand. Wearing fins helps. Rip currents can be identified by churned-up, murky water.
The National Weather Service issued a high surf advisory, effective through 6 p.m. Sunday.
The swell should be the biggest this summer, Surfline chief pacific forecaster Kevin Wallis told The Register. A longer period swell is coming from the Southern Hemisphere, and shorter swell from the south southeast.
Lifeguards in San Clemente will be flying red flags to signify dangerous surf.
Seal Beach's surf should be about right for children, 2-4 feet, lifeguard chief Joe Bailey told The Register. ``We're expecting some pretty fun, good surf.''
Because of the full moon, tides will be extreme, and some low-lying areas around Seal Beach and the Balboa Peninsula could see some coastal overflow.
Newport Beach's renowned break, The Wedge, could produce waves 12-15 feet, Wallis said.
Wallis said a midsize surf can be deceptive, because of lulls between big sets. People should be wary about venturing out on jetties to get an up-close look at the surf. Waves can unexpectedly wash over previously dry areas, especially with an incoming tide.
Water temperatures will be about as warm as they get, around 70 degrees.
The air temperature along the coast should top out in the mid and upper 70s, and even push into the low 80s in spots. The wind will be out of the west, peaking around 15 mph in the late afternoon.
- City News Service