Big waves, warm waters, dangerous rip currents expected along Southern California coast this weekend

Fishermen are dwarfed by a big wave crashing at The Wedge in Newport Beach on July 20.
Fishermen are dwarfed by a big wave crashing at The Wedge in Newport Beach on July 20.
(Luis Sinco/Los Angeles Times)

High surf and warm waters along Los Angeles and Orange county beaches are expected to draw big crowds this weekend, but officials are also warning of the increased chance of dangerous rip currents.

Waves in Orange County could reach up to 7 feet this weekend, while Los Angeles County waves are expected to crest at around 5 or 6 feet, officials said.

“We are expecting to see some elevated surf this weekend, pretty much through Sunday,” said Casey Oswant, a National Weather Service meteorologist based in San Diego. “With that higher surf, we are expecting an increased risk for strong rip currents — that’s something that beach goers should look out for this weekend.”


The strong currents are expected along the coast from Ventura to San Diego counties. Rip currents form at breaks in sand bars and near jetties and piers, according to the National Weather Service.

The strong currents, with an average speed of 1 to 2 feet per second, flow away from the shore at surf beaches. Some currents can move as fast as 8 feet per second, which the weather service says is faster than an Olympic swimmer.

Oswant recommends people touch base with lifeguards before going into the waves, and swimming in front of lifeguard stands.

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Aug. 18, 2022

Ocean temperatures are expected to remain warm along Southern California’s coastline, measuring in the high 60s and low 70s this week through the weekend, according to National Weather Service data.

“That can contribute to a feeling of more humidity along the coast,” Oswant said. “Near the coast it might stay kind of humid, if the water temperatures stay as warm as they have been, but inland should be a little bit less humid.”


But she said the region is expecting a “pattern change,” that will bring overall cooler temperatures both inland and along the coast, down from the upper 80s and 90s this week, into the mid-70s and lower 80s this weekend, Oswant said.

A high surf advisory is issued for beaches in Orange, Los Angeles, San Diego and Ventura counties. Some waves are up to 12 feet high.

July 20, 2022

“Near the coast Sunday, it will be closer to 70 to 75, it will cool down nicely over there,” she said. At some Los Angeles County beaches, temperatures could drop to the high 60s Sunday, said David Sweet, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Oxnard. He said the humidity much of the region felt this week should also be waning.

“Things are returning to normal, we’re in the process of drying out,” Sweet said. But “next week, we start to warm up again.”

By Wednesday, he said much of Los Angeles County will be back to high temperatures in the 90s.