A Los Angeles County Lifeguard keeps an eye on surfers near the Malibu Pier as unusually large waves pound the coast. Photo by John Schreiber.
A Los Angeles County Lifeguard keeps an eye on surfers near the Malibu Pier as unusually large waves pound the coast. Photo by John Schreiber.

The Los Angeles County Fire Department’s Lifeguard Division made a record number of rescues in 2014, a spike largely attributed to the weather.

The total count of 15,851 ocean rescues shattered the previous mark of 14,096 set in 1997, the department announced.

There were 6,181 more rescues last year than the department’s 20-year average, officials said, adding that “three main weather-related reasons account for the increase.”

“For one, the lack of rain and extended periods of unseasonably warm weather this year brought an increase of activity to L.A. County beaches,” said Acting Chief Lifeguard Steve Moseley. “Secondly, the frequency of larger than normal surf created beach erosion causing inshore holes along our shoreline. The combination of consistent surf and inshore holes caused rip currents to form more frequently along our coast.”

The third weather-related reason for the spike in rescues had to do with unseasonably warm ocean temperatures, Moseley said.

“Temperatures rarely fell below 60 degrees this winter, and have hovered near 70 degrees and above from early spring through October,” he said.

— City News Service

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