High Surf, Cool Breezes at the Beach | NBC Southern California

High Surf, Cool Breezes at the Beach

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    NEWPORT BEACH, CA - SEPTEMBER 01: A surfer rides a high wave at The Wedge on September 1, 2011 in Newport Beach, California. Waves measuring up to 20 feet pounded the beach. A winter storm off the coast of Australia and New Zealand brought unusually high surf to the Southern California beaches. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

    Labor Day weekend brought bigger surf and stronger riptides to the beaches of Southern California than many visitors could handle. A powerful storm in New Zealand got the credit. Down there, it kicked up 50 foot waves. Some local surfers probably would have liked that here, but it wasn't to be. Instead, the push and pull of unusual currents was the concern.

    "I think it's OK, but it's hard," said Gustavo Pinto, a visitor from Venezuela. "Right now, I'm tired, because I was in the water for two hours."

    Dangerous Surf, Cool Breezes at the Beach

    [LA] Dangerous Surf, Cool Breezes at the Beach
    The beach was a popular destination for Labor Day. But going in the water was no holiday. (Published Monday, Sept. 5, 2011)

    Surfers, both advanced and novice, were braving the Labor Day waves. It was a bit calmer Monday than it had been on Sunday.

    "It seems OK today," said Phil Davies, a visitor from Wales. "The waves have calmed down a bit. But they're still pushing you with the current."

    Often, it's what's below the water line that can prove challenging, and in two cases over the weekend the challenge was deadly. One surfer was killed and a boogie boarder disappeared in local waters.

    "It's really important to pay attention to where the brown water is pulling out the sea," said Scott Daley, a former professional surfer. "Calmer water, or greener water, is generally where it's safer. You can see those things when you're at the beach, but if you're not used to what you're looking at, it can be very dangerous."

    Daley says, you can't always tell how bad it is until it's too late.

    "Ask yourself, 'Do these waves look too big for me to surf,'" advises Daley. "And if the answer to yourself is yes, just because you see people out there surfing doesn't mean it's safe."