A swell produced by a strong storm system over the central Pacific will begin to peak Friday, creating massive waves along the California coastline, the National Weather Service said.
The long swell is a welcome sign for organizers of the Mavericks Invitational surf contest at Half Moon Bay. Organizers predict waves will reach 40 feet, similar to those seen in Hawaii.
Weather officials aren't predicting 40-foot waves. They say they may be 20 feet at times in the Northern California area. They said the waves in Hawaii were bigger because the storm was closer.
About 24 surfers from around the world are scheduled to compete in the contest. Organizers said for the first time they will air the contest on national television through Universal Sports Network and it will stream live at mavericksinvitational.com
The swell has prompted weather officials to issue a high-surf advisory for the coastline. National Weather Service officials are warning the public of strong rip currents and beach erosion.
Meteorologist Bill Forwood said waves in the Central Coast will reach 10 to 15 feet with sets up to 19 feet.
For beaches along Ventura, Los Angeles, Orange and San Diego counties, waves will reach 7 to 10 feet with sets up to 12 feet.
In Huntington Beach, some waves could reach up to 14 feet.
This is the second swell forecasters predicted would smack the state.
The swells are being generated by a huge storm surge that already has produced some of the largest waves to have hit Hawaii in decades.
Waves up to 40 feet tall crashed into shorelines Wednesday, creating flooding in coastal roads and parking lots. Waves up to 50 feet high were feared on the famous North Shore of Oahu and at other islands.
According to one buoy northwest of the island of Kauai, the surf heading toward Hawaii was at its highest level since 1986, said Tom Birchard, a senior forecast for the National Weather Service in Honolulu, to the Los Angeles Times.
In addition to the high-surf advisory, forecasters also have issued high wind and red flag fire warnings across Southern California.
Forecasters said that northeast winds up to 40 mph could be expected across mountain areas in Los Angeles and Ventura counties. Southeast winds up to 50 mph could blow across Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo counties.
Powerful winds were also forecast for San Diego and Orange counties.
The warnings were issued through Friday evening due to the high winds, low relative humidity and very dry vegetation, according to the weather service.
But there's more.
A small weather system moving toward the coast of Northern Baja is pushing clouds over Los Angeles. The moisture may produce some drizzle over Los Angeles.
So if Angelenos feel a drop of water on their neck, they shouldn't freak out, "it's not bird poop," Forwood said.
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