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Big waves, rip currents could mean trouble starting Friday as people head to coast to beat heat

By in Press Enterprise on October 5, 2017

By Laylan Connelly Plenty of surfers and spectators were on hand for big waves at the Wedge in Newport Beach in 2014. (File photo, Orange County Register/SCNG)

It’s a combination that could turn a fun day at the beach into tragedy.

A heat wave expected to send inland temperatures into the 90s by Friday and the 80s through the weekend could draw crowds to the coast to cool off. But be warned, big waves and strong rip currents expected to show up Friday and linger through the weekend will make for hazardous conditions.

Temperatures along the coast are expected to be in the mid-70s this weekend.

Huntington Beach-based forecast company Surfline.com expects waves in the 3- to 4-foot range Friday, beefing up to 4- to 7-foot Saturday and Sunday at south-facing beaches.

Those areas include Zuma Beach, Malibu and Santa Monica in Los Angeles County; stretches of Huntington Beach further south; areas such as 56th and the Wedge in Newport Beach; and spots along Laguna Beach and Salt Creek in Dana Point.

The National Weather Service issued a warning emphasizing the risk of “dangerous rip currents and sneaker waves.” The NWS adds that “inexperienced swimmers and surfers should stay out of the water, stay off the rock walls and jetties.”

The dangerous conditions arrive as lifeguard staffing is in its usual post-summer decline, with many part-time, seasonal guards heading back to school or other jobs.

Huntington Beach Marine Safety Lt. Claude Panis said they are going to try to fill as many towers as possible, and Newport lifeguard Battalion Chief Brent Jacobsen said he will increase staffing levels.

“If it is hot, people come out. If surf comes up, rip currents will be elevated so it will probably present a bit of a challenge for us,” Panis said.

Panis advises the public to swim near an open lifeguard tower and always ask […]    

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