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High surf and strong currents could affect popular New Year's Day events

Posted at 11:32 PM, Dec 31, 2019
and last updated 2020-01-01 02:40:26-05

The annual polar bear dip and plunge events in Cayucos and in Avila Beach bring thousands of people into the area to jump into the chilly waters on New Year's Day.

But the National Weather Service issued a surf advisory, with reports of large breaking waves from 10 to 20 feet.

These waves could potentially make it dangerous for anyone planning on getting in the water.

"Powerful waves, strong rip currents, strong lateral currents. Those could both pose exceptional risk of ocean drowning and damage to coastal structures and large breaking waves could cause injury and wash people off beaches,” said Tom Fisher, National Weather Service Meteorologist.

Fisher says they are currently looking at 10 to 15 foot waves until Wednesday at 2 p.m. where it will then increase to 15 to 20 feet waves for beaches in San Luis Obispo County.

While some first timers for the dip may play it a bit more cautious, "I think I'll just take it as it comes and on the side of caution but I'll probably want to join in anyway,” said Lauren Hanson, San Francisco resident.

Other event regulars are ready for the waves, "I don't think the waves are going to be big enough on the shore to hold us back, we love the polar bear dip part,” said Genevieve Allen, San Rafael resident.

Fisher says it's best to use your judgment and be aware of the risks before deciding to jump into the water.

But with lifeguards, firefighters, and thousands of people on hand, officials say the polar bear dip should be good to go.

The Avila Beach polar bear plunge is taking place at 12 to 2 p.m. Wednesday.

While festivities are set to begin at 9:30 Wednesday morning for the polar bear dip in Cayucos.