Warm weather lures many to Ocean Beach, but beware of rip tides

Thursday's unseasonably warm weather brought throngs of people to the beach all across the Bay Area. But with rough currents and sneaker waves in the forecast, area officials urged beach goers to play it safe.

"If you’re in doubt, don’t go out," said Alex Bernstein, a member of the San Francisco Fire Department's Surf Rescue Unit. "Anytime, there’s this kind of weather and this many people on the beach, our activity increases significantly."  

Thursday, the National Weather Service put out a Beach Hazard Statement for the Coastal North Bay, warning about the potential for dangerous sneaker waves and rip currents. Bernstein says all too often, people simply don’t know their own abilities, and rip currents can catch them off guard.

"Rip currents usually start out in an area that looks sort of mellow, because there are less waves breaking where the rip current is forming, but the current moves out to sea very quickly, faster than some Olympic swimmers can swim," said Bernstein.

Even beach regulars, found themselves going out of their way to warn people about the surf.

"I told them about the current, so they thanked me," said George Castro, who was walking along San Francisco's Ocean Beach. "I am feeling the current. I can read the water well, because I’ve been coming here all my life."

"Yeah you really want to be careful today, the tides going out right now, so the currents really starting to pick up," said surfer Jim Keenan.

But for whose who know their limits, Keenan says Thursday offered a perfect beach day.

SEE ALSO: Search suspended for missing fisherman near Muir Beach

"I just had to run from work, and shore it up, and tell some white lies, and run," said Keenan.

"We have to take advantage of this because San Francisco doesn’t get weather like this very often. We need rain desperately, but that’s ok, I’m going to enjoy this," added Castro.

Friday is expected to be another popular day at the beach in San Francisco with temperatures predicted to hit the 70s once again.