Highest waves of the summer at SoCal beaches draw surfers, even as officials warn of rip currents

A body surfer slices through a big wave at the Wedge in Newport Beach
A body surfer slices through a big wave at the Wedge in Newport Beach.
(Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)

Some of the highest waves of the summer were drawing surfers to Southern California beaches this week, with swells reaching as high as 12 feet in some places.

The National Weather Service issued a high surf advisory for beaches from San Diego to Ventura counties through Thursday morning, especially for south- and southwest-facing shorelines. Forecasters warned of high waves and dangerous rip currents.

For the record:

7:29 a.m. July 21, 2022An earlier version of this article and its headline said forecasters were warning of rip tides at Southern California beaches. They were warning of dangerous rip currents.

San Diego and Orange County beaches are expected to see the highest swells — from 4 to 8 feet — while Los Angeles and Ventura County beaches are likely to get 4- to 7-foot waves, the weather service predicted.


“It’s the highest we’ve seen this summer,” said meteorologist Samantha Connolly with the weather service’s San Diego office, which also covers Orange County.

Waves in Huntington Beach towered at 9 feet Monday, Connolly said, and remained in the 7- to 8-foot range Tuesday. The swells are expected through Thursday.

“This was from a storm in the South Pacific, bringing that higher swell up to Southern California,” Connolly said. “It’s the same swell that’s been affecting Hawaii. It’s just a little less strong here.”

The aftermath of Hurricane Darby brought intense swells to Hawaii earlier this week, with massive waves crashing onto homes and resorts, news reports showed.

Monsoonal moisture that brought small pockets of rain along south Los Angeles County to Ventura County is expected to persist through Thursday in some locations.

July 18, 2022

Surfers in Southern California flocked to the beaches for the high waves, especially Newport Beach’s Wedge, known for its intense swells. Videos from the popular surfing site showed many trying to ride the huge waves, which reached as high as 12 feet Tuesday, according to lifeguards.

Newport Beach Lifeguard Battalion Chief Adam Yacenda said by Wednesday morning, the surf had calmed slightly, with waves hovering around 5 feet. But he said another swell is coming, and it too will bring monster waves late Wednesday and into Thursday.


National Weather Service officials warned inexperienced swimmers to say out of the ocean and recommended that beachgoers swim near lifeguards. The high surf advisory is expected to expire at 11 a.m. Thursday.

Yacenda said it’s important to pay attention to the water.

“Talk to a lifeguard about the safest place to enter the water,” he said. “It’s still hazardous conditions on our southern-facing beaches in Newport.”