People are advised to steer clear of the beach this weekend due to dangerous wave conditions along the entire North Coast, weather officials said.
Wave swells of 18 to 20 feet are forecast tonight into Sunday with 25-foot breakers from Point St. George to Cape Mendocino. Beaches facing west and northwest and bar entrances are the most treacherous areas.
”It's going to be hazardous,” National Weather Service meteorologist Jeff Tonkin said. “We'll see the potential for a high surf advisory through Sunday. It's not a good weekend to go out fishing or go to the beach.”
Strong winds of up to 35 knots are also forecast off the coast through this morning.
The large swells depend on three factors: a strong low pressure system offshore, fetch -- how far winds blow over the water's surface -- and the duration of a storm, said Jeff Abell, chairman of the Humboldt State University oceanography department.
”It's kind of like a perfect confluence of all of these factors that are giving us strong swells,” Abell said. “That's why we're seeing them this weekend because of these low pressure systems that are moving across the Pacific right now.”
The system is expected to bring a half inch to three-quarters of an inch of rain today, according to NWS.
”The storm that we're going to be seeing here this weekend, it's more typical for what we normally see this time of year versus the long stretch of dry weather,” Tonkin said.
Lorna Rodriguez can be reached at 441-0506 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @LornaARodriguez.