Elevated surf expected along county coastline could lead to rip currents

SAN DIEGO -  

Elevated surf expected along the San Diego County coastline on Sunday could lead to hazardous rip currents, forecasters said.

"There is a high risk of rip currents," according to the National Weather Service. "Rip currents are powerful channels of water flowing quickly away from shore, which occur most often at low spots or breaks in the sandbar and in the vicinity of structures such as groins, jetties and piers."

San Diego Lifeguard Lt. Andy Lerum said no major incidents related to rip currents had been reported as of late morning.

"The surf is elevated, it's really not that significant, but rip currents are prevalent when the surf is up a little bit," Lerum said.

The water temperature Sunday at Mission Beach was 57 degrees, and waves were in the 5-7 foot range at midday, according to Beachline.com.

The risk of strong rips was expected to remain high through Monday morning. Surf between 4 and 6 feet high, with local sets of up to 8 feet, was expected south of Encinitas, according to the NWS.

"The elevated surf and long period of the swells will result in stronger and more persistent rip currents, increasing the danger to swimmers and surfers," according to a weather service statement. "Minor beach erosion could also be possible."

Beachgoers were advised to heed the advice of lifeguards and the beach patrol and to pay attention to flags and posted signs. NWS officials said those who do become caught in a rip current should remain calm, swim parallel to the shore and when away from the force of the rip current then swim back to the beach.

"Do not attempt to swim directly against a rip current," forecasters said. "Even a strong swimmer can become exhausted quickly."

Officials with the weather service said a long period northwest swell generated over the western Pacific was moving through the coastal waters of southern California. The surf and swell were expected to decrease Monday and Tuesday.

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