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By Eric Heinz 

Surf forecasters are predicting a “large and powerful” swell to hit Southern California early next week, a press release from the city of San Clemente stated on Friday, July 20.

“The surf will begin to increase on Sunday (July 22) and will peak mid-week with wave faces projected to be up to 10 feet,” the release stated. “Waves will be larger than normal for the entire week, beginning Monday (July 23). Surf is anticipated to average 5 feet to 8 feet through Friday (July 27).”

Marine Safety Chief Bill Humphreys warned swimmers and surfers to use caution when entering ocean waters.

“Along with the large surf, we will have equally large rip currents,” the release stated. “These currents can pull you away from the beach. Please don’t panic if you are caught in one, swim parallel to the beach, and once out of it, swim in. If you can’t swim to the side, tread water or float and a lifeguard will be out to assist you.”

Ocean Festival will end just as a large swell hits San Clemente beginning Sunday afternoon, July 22. The swell is expected to peak at 6 to 8 feet with occasional 10-foot waves on July 24. Photo: File
Ocean Festival will end just as a large swell hits San Clemente beginning Sunday afternoon, July 22. The swell is expected to peak at 6 to 8 feet with occasional 10-foot waves on July 24. Photo: File

Humphreys added that in addition to the large surf size and rip currents, there will be a strong lateral or side current going from the south toward the north. The release stated that swimmers on the south side of the Pier could be pushed into the structure by this current. If you find yourself drifting to toward the Pier, return to the beach immediately.

“Marine Safety staff want to remind you to enjoy the warm water and the surf but please be careful,” Humphreys said. “Always swim near a lifeguard, never swim alone and know your abilities before going into the water. When you arrive at the beach, please take a minute to talk with the nearest lifeguard to find the safest place to swim and to get the latest updates on conditions. They are there to help make your day as safe and as enjoyable as possible and will be happy to assist you and your family.”

Marine Safety uses Surfline for surf forecasting. Humphreys said the surf on July 21, the start of Ocean Festival, is projected to be between 2 and 3 feet with occasional 4-foot waves. But on July 22, the waves will be 3 to 4 feet in the morning and increase slightly in the afternoon. July 23 will see 4- to 6-foot waves.

By July 24 and 25, the surf is expected to reach 6 to 8 feet with occasional 10-foot waves. The swell is forecasted to decrease in size by July 26.

“The swell came from quite some distance, down in New Zealand, over a long duration,” Humphreys said. “It’s going to be great, with warm water that will be great for the surfers. We just ask people to swim safely.”

Humphreys said there’s always rip currents occurring in San Clemente, but larger surf can create more, as the power from the waves crashing and rescinding into the beach creates more opportunity for them.

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