Strong Rip Currents Hit Local Beaches

By Monica Garske and Artie Ojeda
|  Saturday, Sep 14, 2013  |  Updated 10:12 AM PDT
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As high surf and strong rip currents hit San Diego beaches, lifeguards urge swimmers and beachgoers to be careful in the water and heed warnings. NBC 7's Artie Ojeda reports.

As high surf and strong rip currents hit San Diego beaches, lifeguards urge swimmers and beachgoers to be careful in the water and heed warnings. NBC 7's Artie Ojeda reports.

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Strong rip currents are expected to hit local beaches Friday evening through Saturday, according to NBC 7 meteorologist Jodi Kodesh.

“A large southerly ocean swell will produce above average surf and strong rip currents along San Diego and Orange County beaches,” said Kodesh.

The rip currents call for some extra precautions at the beach.

“All but the most experienced swimmers could be at risk, so beachgoers are urged to swim near a lifeguard,” said Kodesh. “Lifeguards are trained to spot rip currents and other hazards, so I recommend asking one of them for a beach report, before going for a swim.”

Kodesh said there will be much better, safer swimming conditions at local beaches beginning Sunday that will last through next week.

In the meantime, San Diego Lifeguards are warning all swimmers and beachgoers to be extra cautious in the water and heed all warnings by officials.

On Friday lifeguards say they had what they call a “mass-rescue” at Mission Beach after a flash rip current pulled five people under at the same time.

Over the loudspeaker at the beach, the following warning from lifeguards could be heard throughout the afternoon: “We have some very dangerous rip currents that will put you out to sea and recommend that you all water activity for the evening.”

San Diego Lifeguard Sgt. Bill Bender said the rip currents are not to be taken lightly – especially by swimmers and surfers with less experience.

“It wants to take people right out through the surf, and beyond the breakers, and drop them off,” said Sgt. Bender.

On Friday, some local swimmers, including Caleb Smith, were feeling the effect of the conditions in the water.

“Once you get out there a little bit, it starts pulling you back, it starts getting stronger and stronger. I don’t go into the ocean a lot, but it’s pretty rough out there,” Smith told NBC 7.

With the strong currents expected to last through Saturday, beachgoers should note that lifeguards are no longer staffed with their full summer crews.

Now that we’re in mid-September, officials say there will be 20 or fewer lifeguards staffed from the jetty to north Pacific Beach, meaning swimmers should take every precaution to stay as safe as possible out there.

“Find out where the safe areas are to swim, find out where the swimming activity zones are, and we’ll tell you where the best areas are too,” said Sgt. Bender. “[Still], that doesn’t mean those areas are always going to be clear from rip currents.”

Lifeguards say that if you happen to get caught in a rip current, you must remember to swim parallel to the shore and toward the breaking waves, which will push you back towards the shore.

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