Strong rip currents and bigger waves are expected to hit beaches across Ventura, Los Angeles and Orange counties through Friday evening, as forecasters warn swimmers of increased drowning dangers.
Higher surf conditions and potentially dangerous currents will rip across the SoCal coastline, according to the National Weather Service. While waves are expected to be a little bigger than usual, forecasters are most concerned with the threats of strong currents — issuing beach hazards statements in all three counties.
"There is an increased risk for ocean drowning," National Weather Service officials said. "Rip currents can pull swimmers and surfers out to sea."
Huntington Beach Marine Safety Division Lt. Claude Panis said rip currents account for more than 90 percent of lifeguard rescues.
"That’s the biggest hazard for swimmers, being pulled out from where it’s shallow to where it’s deep, so you really have to be careful," he said.
Meanwhile, so-called 'sneaker waves' — ones that surge higher than average suddenly and without warning — can break along jetties and rocks with "deadly force," NWS officials said. Those waves are expected all along the coastline from Ventura down to San Diego.
"Sneaker waves can suddenly wash people off of beaches and rock jetties," NWS Los Angeles officials said.
However, a high surf advisory is not currently in effect for Ventura, L.A. or O.C. beaches.
Most waves are expected to reach three to six feet high along south facing beaches in L.A. and Ventura counties while the surf will get up to four to six feet high along south facing O.C. beaches, forecasters said.