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High surf heading to Southern California

Beachgoers hoping to cool off in the broiling heat wave may be warned to stay out of the water, however, because the big waves may create a strong, dangerous rip current.

July 23, 2009|Ruben Vives

High temperatures and surf are expected to be in full force beginning today at Southern California beaches, where people trying to beat the heat might be told to stay out of the water.

As the heat wave continues, south-facing beaches in Los Angeles and Orange counties are bracing for large waves. The high surf is a byproduct of 50-knot winds that developed off Tahiti and are blowing toward Southern California, producing 8-to-12-foot swells at some beaches.

The conditions are perfect for surfers, and the Hurley U.S. Open of Surfing competition is being held in Huntington Beach through Sunday. But the surf might be too much for other beachgoers, and lifeguards may warn them not to go into the water if the surf gets too high and dangerous.

The National Weather Service has issued a warning to boaters in south-facing harbors to anchor down. Beach homeowners also are being told to be wary of increased erosion from large waves and high tides. "It's going to be very dangerous; there's going to be a lot of rip current," said Sean Collins, chief forecaster for surfline.com.

As high pressure continues to produce broiling conditions in the Southland, the beaches are expected to be packed in the coming days. So lifeguards are preparing.

"We're watching it and we're prepared . . . but then again it's a prediction, so things might change," said Mickey Gallagher, the Santa Monica-based Central Section chief for Los Angeles County lifeguards. "Only time will tell."

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ruben.vives@latimes.com

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