Big waves start rolling in

Surfers enjoyed this winter’s first strong swell Wednesday, and are looking forward to even better waves forecast for Friday.

The biggest local surf was north of the Huntington Beach pier, where the west swell broke with wave faces as high as 15 feet, a lifeguard representative said.

“It’s pretty heavy,” said Huntington Beach Marine Safety Officer Todd Bartlett.

In Newport, the best waves broke near the Newport Pier. Because of ocean bottom contours, waves there were smaller than in Huntington, said Lifeguard Officer George “Skeeter” Leeper.

He called the biggest sets Wednesday about 6 feet high.

While the wintertime crowds are more manageable than those in the summer, guards still advised swimmers to keep near lifeguard towers and to avoid wearing clothing in the water, as it can weigh people down.

“Mostly, it’s really exciting for the surfing community,” Leeper said. forecasts a stronger swell will hit the coast Friday, nearly 50% larger than Wednesday’s.

— Mike Reicher

Twitter: @mreicher