High surf advisory in effect; dramatic rescues at WindanSea

High surf Thursday led to a spate of lifeguard rescues of swimmers and surfers at WindanSea Beach in La Jolla.

A major storm originating near New Zealand caused the National Weather Service to issue a high surf advisory starting Thursday for San Diego County beaches lasting through 9 p.m. Sunday.

“We had very large surf yesterday and it will be large today, tomorrow and Sunday,” warned San Diego Lifeguard Lt. John Everhart noting “we had some very dramatic rescues at WindanSea.”

Everhart added present surf conditions “are some of the largest summer surf we’ve seen in a long time.”

The lifeguard said waves in some of the bigger sets, typically 3 to 5 feet at their base, were in the 15- to 20-foot range yesterday.

“It’s a big south swell,” he said, adding reef beaches along La Jolla’s coastline like WindanSea caught the brunt of those swells.

“The number of rescues was not up dramatically, we’ve had a lot more rescues when the surf is smaller,” noted Everhart. “But the rescues we made yesterday were a little more serious.”

Everhart noted it’s a much more arduous process for a lifeguard to affect a rescue in 15-foot surf that is 3 times the size of surf usually encountered.

“Things happen faster, there’s more power, more danger involved,” he said.

The lifeguard said he knew of at least one person rescued at WindanSea Beach Thursday who had to be transported to the hospital for further treatment.

Surf heights were expected to range between 7 and 9 feet, with sets up to 11 feet.

“The surf will gradually lower over the weekend, but still remain above average with strong rip currents both Saturday and Sunday,“ according to the Weather Service.

“I think it will be a very busy weekend for lifeguards,” Everhart concluded.

To see the surf conditions at Scripps Pier go to