Dangerous waves threaten along coast

A large storm in the Gulf of Alaska is sending big seas south to the Bay Area over the next couple of days and officials are warning residents to be alert when near the coast, according to the National Weather Service.

The storm surge is moving south now and will arrive Tuesday afternoon, said meteorologist Steve Anderson.

The ocean will calm down sometime Wednesday night, but not before increasing the likelihood of dangerous sneaker waves, rip currents, coastal erosion and big ocean swells that are expected to reach 20 feet.

During that period our local skies will be comparatively calm and temperatures will be mild and warm for the season, which means that people visiting beaches and other coastal areas could be lulled into a false sense of safety, Anderson said:

“People should stay well back from the water’s edge. … Most of it is common sense. If (the water) looks big, then it is big.”

The hazardous conditions will impact the coast from Sonoma County south through Monterey County, Anderson said.

Sneaker waves are large waves that unexpectedly push beyond the normal area affected by the surf and can drag people from land that seems safe back into the ocean.

One of the biggest dangers is when dogs play in the surf, get dragged into the water and then their owners jump in to save them, Anderson said.

He advised people to keep an eye on their dogs and if they get into trouble, let them swim back on their own.