Hurricane at Baja Making Waves Swell

TIMES STAFF WRITER

A hurricane off the southern tip of Baja California is being felt along the Orange County coastline, where waves in some areas reached eight feet Tuesday, and even bigger waves could wash up today, weather forecasters say.

The surges delighted surfers at Newport Beach, where the waves doubled in size from four feet to eight feet by Tuesday afternoon, Marine Safety Officer Gordon Reed said. Lifeguards along the coast said that while the swells are increasing, they have not experienced an upturn in rescues or swimmers.

"I guess most people are at work," Reed said. "It's also been a little cloudy off and on so there isn't much of a beach crowd. The surfers, they're always here."

Weather forecasters say the hurricane could result in wave surges early today, but waves are expected to return to normal by this afternoon.

"The waves could get bigger but they are pretty much stamped out by the time they get to Southern California," said meteorologist Curtis Brack of WeatherData, a service that provides weather information to The Times. "If there are any changes, you will likely see it early" today.

Lt. Steve Seim of the Huntington Beach Marine Safety Department said his lifeguards will be on the lookout for any treacherous swimming conditions that might be created by the waves, but did not expect any problems.

"It's gone from 3 1/2 feet to four- to five-feet waves," Seim said. "We haven't gotten much size so far."

Aside from the swells, most Orange County residents will not feel the impact of Hurricane Olivia, which developed off the Central American coast but was remaining stationary late Tuesday several hundred miles west of the southern tip of Baja.

"It's moving only a little bit and looks like it's decreasing," Brack said. "People might see some good large waves coming into the beach and plenty of high clouds, but that's about it," he said, adding that he was not expecting any weather advisories warning people of dangerous surf conditions.

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