Beachgoers should be wary of getting close to the shore along the Bay Area coast through Saturday morning because a long-lasting swell train could bring dangerous sneaker waves and rip currents, according to the National Weather Service.
Weather officials issued a beach hazard statement Friday announcing that the northwest swell will increase the risk of sneaker waves, which are sudden, infrequent waves that wash up high on shore and can pull unsuspecting people into the ocean, said Spencer Tangen, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service.
“When that happens, the waves can catch you off-guard if you stand too close, and there are cases of people getting swept off to sea,” Tangen said. “People can be caught unawares, and waves can come up much further than you expect.”
Tangen said the swell may also bring rip currents along the Pacific Ocean coastline, which are strong, fast-moving currents that are capable of pulling swimmers into the ocean.
BEACH HAZARD STATEMENT pic.twitter.com/DnM1aWOCBV
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If someone finds themselves in a rip current, weather officials advised them against swimming toward shore, and instead, advised them to relax and float. If the person is able, they can swim parallel, following the shoreline in order to escape.
“If anyone is heading to the beach, just stay a good distance back from shore, more than you would think because of the risk of sneaker waves washing up further,” he said.
Weather service officials advise people to stay out of the water altogether and off of rock jetties because of the dangerous, unpredictable surf conditions.
Tangen said hazardous wave conditions, including the possibility of wave heights of between 15 and 20 feet, should be expected along the Point Reyes National Seashore, San Francisco peninsula coast, northern Monterey Bay, southern Monterey Bay, and the Big Sur coast.
The hazard statement is in effect through 11 a.m. Saturday.
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