Large swell increases beach risk

Anyone planning a trip to the beach or going into Bay Area waters later this week should be cautious of a large swell expected along the coast, according to the U.S. Coast Guard and National Weather Service.

Waves have been gradually increasing and will range between 8 to 11 feet by Thursday and continue into Friday, National Weather Service forecaster Bob Benjamin said. The waves are arriving in the Bay Area from a storm up north in the Gulf of Alaska, Benjamin said.

High temperatures will range from the mid-60s to upper 70s along the coast Thursday and Friday, which Benjamin said might incline people to go to the beach. The swell will create hazardous beach conditions such as rip currents, sneaker waves and large breaking weaves, which could pull people into sea, Benjamin said.

Coast Guard officials are warning the public to stay updated on weather conditions. Those participating in water recreational activities should have a working VHF-FM radio, which can help Coast Guard crews find anyone reportedly in distress.

Boaters should file a float plan, and not be under the influence of alcohol or controlled substances while on the water, according to Coast Guard officials. Children should be carefully watched and educated on water safety. Divers should be aware of their physical condition, make sure their equipment is properly working, and always dive with a companion. More information on rip current safety can be found online at http://www.ripcurrents.noaa.gov/overview.shtml.