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Dangerous surf hits Southern California shores as thousands flock to beaches

September 1, 2012 12:00:00 AM PDT
Dangerous surf is being churned up all along the Southern California coast this holiday weekend, and lifeguards are warning beach-goers to take heed.

The waves are being kicked up from Santa Barbara County to San Diego County as Tropical Storm Ileana weakens off the coast of Baja California. Swells could produce breakers up to 8 feet.

Lifeguards at Huntington Beach said they had to do more than 50 water rescues of swimmers and surfers on Saturday. By noon, some waves were over 10 feet and rip currents were strong. Lifeguards warned the waves were for professionals only.

"This is one of those days where you just don't paddle out because it's big time," said Lee Hernandez of Newport Beach. "I've seen this before but this is scary."

Roughly 60,000 to 70,000 visitors hit Huntington Beach on Saturday, according to lifeguards. With that many people out, lifeguards patrolled the water on a boat and a jet ski.

Meanwhile, people on land at The Wedge lined up to see the huge sets, some reaching up to 15 feet. Many were impressed by Mother Nature.

"I mean the force of nature the power behind these waves, you're just fixated on watching. It's just amazing," said Claudia Schmutzler of Corona Del Mar.

Lifeguards were also kept busy from Malibu to San Pedro. L.A. County lifeguards rescued 170 people from the water Saturday.

The high surf advisory is in effect through the weekend for all Southern California beaches.

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