SAN DIEGO — Memorial Day weekend is upon us and the National Weather Service San Diego has issued an advisory for beachgoers.

In a tweet Friday, NWS alerted the region of a possible increase in rip currents on top of below normal temperatures and cold water. In another advisory Saturday, weather officials say elevated surf and rip currents will create hazardous swimming conditions along San Diego’s coast throughout the weekend and into Monday.

With a moderate rip current risk on the forecast, surf height may be between 3-5 feet and water temperatures are expected to be between 63-66 degrees Sunday and on on Memorial Day, according to NWS predictions.

What is a rip current? Weather officials have described these events as “powerful currents of water moving away from the shore” that can sweep “even the strongest swimmers” away from shore.

Alex Tardy, a warning coordination meteorologist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) NWS, told FOX 5 that informative boards explaining rip currents have recently been installed along several beaches in San Diego County.

rip current warning
This is an example of an information board that can be found at some beaches in San Diego County. (Photo: NOAA NWS)

While it’s encouraged to avoid swimming during hazardous swimming conditions, NWS says those who do brave the waters should following these safety precautions: make sure you know how to swim, never swim alone, swim near a lifeguard tower, and follow the motto “if in doubt, don’t go out.”

For those planning to post up in the sand Memorial Day weekend, despite the continued May Gray weather pattern that’s become all too familiar lately, NWS has encouraged swimmers to familiarize themselves with what they should do if caught in a rip current.

Here are some tips from NWS for swimmers on how to survive a rip current:

  • Relax. Rip currents don’t pull you under.
  • A rip current is a natural treadmill that travels an average speed of 1-2 feet per second, but has been measured as fast as 8 feet per second — faster than an Olympic swimmer. Trying to swim against a rip current will only use up your energy — energy you need to survive and escape the rip current.
  • Do not try to swim directly into to shore. Swim along the shoreline until you escape the current’s pull. When free from the pull of the current, swim at an angle away from the current toward shore.
  • If you feel you can’t reach shore, relax, face the shore, and call or wave for help.

Looking ahead, weather officials say it will remain cool through the holiday weekend with expected cloud cover at the beaches most of the day on Sunday and Monday. NWS says there may even be some patchy drizzle Monday morning.

Stay safe out there San Diego.