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A strong, southwest swell that was created by a storm near Antarctica, Australia, and New Zealand has been hitting the Southern California coast. Waves crashed over Strand Way in Oceanside, and that part of the street was closed when a pedestrian reported being shocked (yes, salt water is a good conductor of electricity). Surfing spots like the Wedge in Newport Beach reported waves that were 15 feet (4.57 m) high! An article with ABSOLUTELY INCREDIBLE surfing photos, called “Cowabunga, dude! Surf’s up” is in the Los Angeles Times online.

The high surf is supposed to peak today (Thursday), but the National Weather Service has issued a high-surf advisory through 5 PM Friday and warns that south- and southwest-facing beaches could experience waves of up to 11 feet (3.35 m) high.

Newport Beach officials reported waves of 10-13 feet at the beaches and up to 20 feet at the Wedge. Waves breached at least one parking lot on the Balboa Peninsula. Lifeguards in Laguna Beach closed down the parking lot at Aliso Beach after high tide washed in sand and debris. Waves damaged a wooden boardwalk at Capistrano Beach and washed up debris that closed the parking lot.

The surf should generated strong and dangerous rip currents. If you are caught in a rip current, swim to the side, parallel to the shore, to avoid being swept out to sea. The search for swimmer Jowayne Binford, 26, of Long Beach, who was last seen around 6 p.m. Wednesday about 200 yards off Seal Beach was called off today. Lifeguards warned beachgoers to either avoid the heavy surf or to use caution. You should be a very strong swimmer AND use fins. Section Chief Garth Canning of the L.A. County Fire Department‘s lifeguard division said:

Most of the surf that we’re seeing up and down the coast is beyond most people’s ability.

Although the high surf caused by the southwest swell should weaken on Friday, waves will be larger than normal THROUGH the Labor Day weekend.

A word to the wise….

-Bill at

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