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Deadly Rip Tide Warning Issued For Northern California Beaches

DAVENPORT (CBS SF) -- There was a new warning in place early Tuesday for a stretch of beaches on the coast near Davenport where three people have died in the turbulent waters over the last month.

The National Weather Service has issued a beach hazard alert for coastal areas -- particularly those with west to northwest facing beaches -- for an increased risk of rip currents and high surf through 11 p.m. Tuesday.

The forecast warns of northwest swells of 8 to 10 feet at 13 to 15 seconds, with breaking waves of 13 to 17 feet possible, and cautions beachgoers to stay out of the water, to not turn their backs to the water if walking along the beach and to avoid fishing from rocks or jetties.

The alert applies to West to northwest facing beaches along the Central Coast from Sonoma County through Monterey County including San Francisco's Ocean Beach, Montara State Beach and Marina State Beach.

The northwest swell is expected to gradually subside on Wednesday.

The new threat comes after what has proven to be a deadly month on the beaches in northern Santa Cruz County.

The Santa Cruz County Sheriff's Office said 17-year-old Cash Ebright was body surfing near Laguna Creek Beach when he disappeared on Sept. 20. His body was recovered on Sunday afternoon.

A week earlier, two people were swept away at Panther State Beach. Authorities eventually found one body, the other man is still missing.

"I would say on the San Mateo - Santa Cruz County coast - probably about a half a dozen [incidents] a year. Usually in those timeframes between seasons when we have the different water dynamics and good weather," said David Cosgrave, the Operations Division Chief for Cal Fire San Mateo County.

Cosgrave explained there are several factors usually at play in these scenarios, including people swimming at beaches with no lifeguards, the changing dynamics of the ocean, and sometimes, whether or not the beach is a steep beach.

"If it's a steep access into the beach you can have underwater currents with the water coming in and out - it'll pull you in and keep you under," he said.

At Laguna Creek Beach, there are warning signs at the entrance explaining that exact phenomenon.

Cosgrave advises beachgoers to be extra cautious, especially when at a beach that is unguarded. He also said swimming is not advised at every beach.

"If they're unguarded, there's no support mechanism there for you to get help in a hurry," he said.

One other safety tool?

"It's good to know the name of the beach - the official name - so that if you do get in trouble you know where to call and direct resources, because it's hard to locate people a lot of the times when they go to these locations," Cosgrave said.

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