Strong rips, rough swimming conditions hit beaches

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SAN DIEGO -- Higher than average surf and potentially dangerous rip currents and expected along the San Diego County coastline Thursday, but they may die down before the long Independence Day holiday weekend gets underway.

A southerly swell is forecasted to bring elevated surf to south and southwest facing beaches through at least Friday. A National Weather Service beach hazards statement warning of 3- to 6-foot surf, sets to 7 feet and strong rip currents will remain in effect until Friday evening.

High temperatures Thursday are also expected to be 5 to 10 degrees cooler than on Wednesday. But it remains to be seen whether the cooling trend will deter beachgoers.

In the forecast for Thursday were highs of 71 to 76 degrees at the beaches, 77 to 82 degrees in inland coastal areas, 80 to 85 degrees in the western valleys, 87 to 92 degrees near the foothills, 89 to 95 degrees with a slight chance of afternoon showers and thunderstorms in the mountains and 104 to 109 degrees in the deserts.

“High pressure aloft will weaken and result in a cooling trend the rest of this week and for the upcoming holiday weekend,'' according to the weather service. “There is a small chance of showers and storms over the mountains this afternoon and early evening, and again Friday afternoon and early evening.''

The NWS advised beachgoers to obey posted warning signs, use caution around the water and always swim near a lifeguard.

“Strong rip and longshore currents will create very hazardous swimming conditions,'' according to the weather service. “Rip currents may pull swimmers out to sea. Sneaker waves can suddenly wash people off rocks and jetties.''

Rip currents are typically more frequent and stronger around jetties, inlets and piers. Swimmers who become caught in a rip current can escape by swimming parallel to the coast before coming to shore. Those who are unable to break free are urged to tread water and call for help.