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Hurricane off Mexico coast to generate dangerous SF waves

Hurricane Fabio could send hazardous waves toward the Bay Area

Satellite photo of a hurricane in the Pacific.
The previous Hurricane Fabio in 2012.
Photo by NASA

The National Weather Service [NWS] issued a “beach hazards statement” warning that Hurricane Fabio, located off the western coast of Mexico, may create dangerous conditions on San Francisco beaches this week.

According to the NWS forecast:

Hurricane Fabio in the eastern north Pacific will generate a moderate height, long period southerly swell train over the coming days. This swell train will move into the coastal waters of the Monterey and San Francisco Bay areas early Thursday morning. The largest southerly waves are forecast to arrive late Thursday into early Friday.

This means that waves on regional beaches, particularly south-facing beaches in Marin and Santa Cruz counties, will see a “southerly swell [of] four to seven feet,” accompanied by an “increased risk of rip currents and sneaker waves.”

The warning is in effect from Wednesday through Saturday—the forecast anticipates that the worst of the influx will occur late Thursday through early Friday.

As KQED warned in 2013, so-called “sneaker waves” or rogue waves are particularly worrisome because although they may appear relatively small and weather conditions on the beach itself may be pleasant, the speed with which waves approach the beach can have deadly consequences.

According to the National Hurricane Center (which, like NWS, is an outlet of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration), storm trackers expect Hurricane Fabio to become increasingly violent:

Maximum sustained winds remain near 90 mph (150 km/h) with higher gusts. However, strengthening is indicated, and Fabio is forecast to be a major hurricane later today or early Wednesday. Steady to rapid weakening is expected to begin after that time.

Hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 35 miles from the center and tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 160 miles.

However, because of its direction, the storm is not expected to pose a direct threat to any coastal region. Its secondary effects, however, mean that San Francisco beachgoers might want to skip the surf during the Fourth of July holiday.