Higher-than-normal surf combined with a tide change and treacherous rip currents led to numerous surf rescues off Orange County beaches Sunday.
"We've got currents all up and down the beach," said Joel Yamasaki, a lifeguard supervisor at Huntington State Beach, which apparently was hit hardest. "The rips are pulling everywhere. They're very visible and very forceful."
The Seal Beach lifeguard station said six boats encountered some engine trouble in the 2- to 4-foot surf and had to be assisted by rescue boats. No major injuries were reported.
Despite Sunday's warmer weather, crowds were lighter than those on the Fourth of July, when a gloomy marine layer kept air temperatures in the low 60s and sun bathers bundled under blankets.
About 35,000 people endured gray skies that finally broke Sunday afternoon, letting the sun shine at Huntington Beach.
By comparison, about 50,000 people spent Friday at Huntington Beach.
Lifeguards said surf rescues were higher than normal Sunday, caused, in part, by the rip currents and a low tide after 1 p.m. that created a strong "suction-like" effect.
John Gifford, Huntington Beach lifeguard, said that when the tide comes in, swimmers and surfers can contend with rip currents.
"But with a low tide and a riptide, they pull everything out to sea: swimmers, Boogie-Boarders, sand. Anything in its path."
As a result, lifeguards from Seal Beach to San Clemente were kept busy, either giving warnings to beachgoers or rescuing them.
Newport Beach reported 70 rescues, Huntington Beach had 73 rescues or "preventive actions" (warnings to swimmers), Huntington Beach State Park had at least 60 rescues and San Clemente, where surf was in the 1- to 3-foot range, had 10. Water temperatures were warmer Sunday, about 68 degrees. The surf today is expected to be about 2 to 4 feet.