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Nice Day To Swim -- But There's Also A High Surf Advisory, So Watch Out

Lifeguard on the beach
File: An L.A. County lifeguard keeps an eye on the water at Will Rogers State Beach in Santa Monica. (Photo by Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images)
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By Mike Roe with Caleigh Wells & Francine Rios

It's so hot -- what a great day to head to the beach! But, wait, maybe not. Hurricane Fabio off the coast of Mexico is bringing large swells up to SoCal, putting lifeguards on high alert, according to the National Weather Service.

This weather system means big waves and riptides. A high surf advisory is in effect through 8 p.m. Friday, to go along with an excessive heat watch that starts Friday morning and runs through Saturday evening -- along with elevated fire danger.

We had similar high surf alerts around last year's Fourth of July, when lifeguards from L.A., Ventura, and Orange counties rescued nearly a thousand people.

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Forecasters say some beaches could see sets as high as 9 feet. The surf will include frequent, strong rip currents, which can pull swimmers and surfers out to sea -- and we could also potentially see what the National Weather Service calls "sneaker waves."

Sneaker waves are called that because they can strike without warning -- and on much of the West Coast, they kill more people than all other weather hazards combined. They're larger-than-average-swells that can suddenly surge dozens of feet higher on the beach than expected, so even if you're not in the water, be careful.

Greg Crow, marine safety lieutenant for Huntington Beach, recommends always consulting with a lifeguard before going in the water -- no matter your level of experience.

"If you're an expert surfer, we'll tell you where the best waves are -- if you're a novice surfer, we'll tell you a good place to go learn," Crow told KPCC. "If you're not a good swimmer, we'll tell you where to go to stay safe. We'll also tell you the hazard areas to avoid."

Some more tips from the National Weather Service to keep you safe:

  • Swim near a lifeguard
  • If caught in a rip current, relax and float -- don't swim against the current
  • If you're able to, swim in a direction following the shoreline
  • If you can't, face the share and call or wave for help

The rough surf is set to peak Thursday evening, then slowly subside through Friday night. So if you head to the beach, stay on watch -- and bring a friend who's a strong swimmer.

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