News, weather warning

Swimmers warned of large surf conditions with weekend’s heatwave

beach flags

WITH forecast heatwave conditions set to drive thousands of people to Illawarra’s beaches this weekend, surf lifesavers are warning people to exercise caution as large swells and strong winds are also expected.

The Bureau of Meteorology has forecast temperatures in the low to mid 30s for the northern Illawarra across the weekend. Although strong sea breezes may keep temperatures a few degrees cooler, they will create choppy conditions on the water along the coastline.

Conditions are expected to be hazardous for coastal activities such as rock fishing, boating, and kitesurfing. People should consider avoiding walking near surf-exposed areas. Rock fishers should avoid coastal rock platforms exposed to the ocean and seek a safe location that is sheltered from the surf.

Strong winds, gusting up to 30 knots and a southerly swell, caused by a low-pressure system in the Southern Ocean, means most beaches and rock platforms could be hazardous on Saturday and Sunday. Wave height is expected to be unpredictable with swell pulses creating some large, intermittent waves.

Surf Life Saving NSW Director of Lifesaving, Joel Wiseman, is urging the public to be cautious if they are visiting the coast this weekend.

“We’re expecting the extreme heatwave conditions to drive a large number of people to the coast this Saturday and Sunday. It’s very important for anyone visiting the coast to consider the risks associated with coastal activities before putting themselves, their family and our lifesavers and lifeguards at risk,” Mr Wiseman said.

“Kite-surfers, sailors and rockfishes should be particularly vigilant given the forecast for high winds and choppy conditions.”

Mr Wiseman reminded beachgoers to swim at patrolled beach locations and to heed the advice of lifeguards and lifesavers regarding the local conditions on the beach.

“If lifesavers and lifeguards haven’t put the red and yellow flags up, the beach is not safe for swimming. Because if no one can see you, no one can save you,” he said.

Since July 1 2019, there have been 25 drowning incidents on the NSW coastline. Twelve of these have occurred over the summer period (since December 1 2019).

BEACH SAFETY TIPS

  • Always swim between the red and yellow patrol flags, for your nearest patrolled beach check the BeachSafe app or website
  • Read the safety signs for information about the beach and ask a lifesaver or lifeguard for safety information
  • Always swim with someone else so you can look out for each other, and always supervise children around the water
  • Never swim under the influence of alcohol or drugs
  • If you need help in the water, stay calm and attract attention by raising one arm
  • In an emergency, dial Triple Zero Police
  • For information about patrol times, weather, and beach locations visit the Beachsafe Website

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About Mick Roberts

A Sydney journalist, writer and historian, Mick Roberts specialises in Australian cultural history, particularly associated with the Australian hotel and liquor industry. Mick has had an interest in revealing the colourful story of pubs, inns and associated industries in Australia for over 30 years. He is currently working on a comprehensive history of the hotel and liquor industry in the Illawarra region of NSW. Besides writing a number of history books, Mick has owned and managed several community newspapers. He was one time editor of the Wollongong Northern News, The Bulli Times, The Northern Times, The Northern Leader and The Local - all located in the Wollongong region. As a journalist he has worked for Rural Press, Cumberland (News Limited), Sydney based, City News, and Torch Publications based in Canterbury Bankstown, NSW. He currently calls the inner-Sydney suburb of Surry Hills home.

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