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Summer weather, strong winds, big surf headed to Southern California

It may be the start of spring, but this week you’ll be feeling summer vibes with hot weather and the first south swell of the season hitting Southern California beaches.

Spring breakers in town have already been flocking to the shore and local lifeguards are gearing up for a busy week, both because of the influx of visitors and rescues as surf strength increases.

Santa Ana winds expected Tuesday evening and into early Wednesday will drive temperatures up, especially in the coastal areas, said Bruno Rodriguez, meteorologist for the National Weather Service.

Temps along the coast both days will be about 80 degrees, an estimated 20 degrees more than normal this time of year. Inland, temperatures will be close to the 90s, about 15 degrees above what’s typical for this time, he said.

It will be noticeably cooler by Friday, with even more substantial cooling for the weekend, Rodriguez said. Next week will even see a chance of rain by its end.

“We might have a shot at a little rain, but there’s a lot of uncertainty,” he said.  “Right now, it’s not significant.”

The wind advisory is only in place for the Santa Ana mountains and foothills area, where winds could whip in the 45 mph to 60 mph range. In the urban areas, winds will be moderate in strength, about 25 mph to 40 mph, and lighter along the coast.

Water temperatures are in the 50s and low 60s, typical this time if year, Rodriguez said.

“We usually only see a slow warm up of ocean temperature as we head into summer,” he said. “Typically warmer (temps) don’t arrive until middle of the summer – it takes awhile for those to rise relative to our air temperature. And we’re heading into May gray, June gloom and that keeps temps down spring and early summer.”

Newport Beach Marine Safety Chief Mike Halphide said beaches have been crowded since last week. Over the weekend, there were about 50,000 people who showed up each day and about 40,000 on Monday.

“It was quite a crowd for a Monday, you can tell it’s a very spring break crowd, a lot of people from out of town,” he said.

There were a handful of rescues on Monday, but for the most part, people don’t stay in the water long because the water is a chilly 57 degrees, he said.  “If people are going in, they aren’t going in for long or venturing very far.”

With weather warming up mid week and the swell on the way, the department plans on opening more towers, especially near busier areas close to the piers.

“There’s a lot of people off, part of it is driven by the weather,” he said. “I think there’s a lot of pent up need for people to get out and recreate. As we saw last year, the beach is somewhere you can get out and give yourself some space, still be able to recreate and enjoy the outdoors.”

Still, people should use caution in and out of the water, he said.

“We remind people, keep some space and do some social distancing,” Halphide said. “We want to keep our beaches open for everyone to enjoy.”

Surfline.com is calling for waves in the 4-foot to 6-foot range along Orange County and in the 2-foot to 4-foot range along Los Angeles County starting on Thursday and through the weekend, into early next week.

It’s the first big south swell of the season, meaning the Wedge in Newport Beach could be waking up from its slumber.

“We’re expecting the Wedge will come to life again after being asleep all winter and the better south-facing spots will start to see some surf,” Halphide said.

Along with the big waves, rip currents will be strong. It’s always best to check with lifeguards before going into the water, he said.

“Even if you’re very experienced, it’s always worthwhile to come and check with lifeguards,” he said. “They have the most up- to-date information about what’s going on in their area.”


Source: Orange County Register

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