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Big surf advisory in effect until Monday afternoon

Strong surf caused about a dozen rescues along the San Diego coastline over the weekend including a handful in the La Jolla area.

The high surf advisory in effect since Friday was not expected to be lifted until 4 p.m. Monday, according to the National Weather Service.

“Yesterday and today we’ve experienced high surf about 6 to 8 feet and we’ve seen waves as big as 10 feet at the local beaches and reef areas,” Lt. Andy Lerum, San Diego Lifeguard spokesman said Monday morning. The surf is originating from storms in the Aleutian Islands causing waves to travel thousands of miles.

“It’s (surf’s) expected to be high through the day (Monday) then taper off the next day and a half.”

On Sunday ocean conditions trapped an unidentified man in an area called “The Hole” near La Jolla Cove about 4 p.m. Despite heavy waves coming dangerously close to a reef, the man was rescued without incident and didn’t require hospitalization, said Lerum, who reported several other rescues took place at Boomer Beach near La Jolla Cove.

Lerum cautioned that even higher surf, perhaps even including “double overhead” sets (twice as high as a surfer standing on a board) could come from another wave-driven storm system by the end of the week.

Elevated surf always increases danger for surfers, especially inexperienced ones, prompting high surf advisories. “Surfers just need to be cognizant of the power of the surf,” cautioned Lerum. “We advocate that surfers stay together in groups, don’t go out alone, and that people only surf in areas protected by lifeguards.”

It’s also not a good time for beginners to go out and learn when surf gets elevated, Lerum added.

Sunset Cliffs in Ocean Beach and Black’s Beach, as well as other coastal spots in La Jolla that are unguarded, are popular surf spots that become dangerous during high surf. WindanSea Beach is another popular surf spot not staffed by lifeguards this time of year.

Lerum cautioned surfcombers, especially those with small children, to remain a safe distance from cliff edges and to avoid low-lying areas along reefs.

“Waves with large sets can sweep over a large area that appears to be dry every 10 or 20 minutes and people out on the reefs can get wiped over,” he said.

Waves generated by distant storms cause higher surf along the San Diego coastline most frequently in the fall and winter.

“We’re in the middle of the surf season,” said Lerum. “We usually get the largest swells from the northwest. About a dozen times a year, we have surf that’s double overhead.”

Summertime typically doesn’t get large surf. When it does, Lerum said it comes from south swells. “That doesn’t happen as regularly as during the wintertime,” he said.