King tide alert for surfers

THE highest tides of the year are %expected to hit the coast this morning, with surf lifesavers asking swimmers and surfers to take care.

Northern NSW lifeguard co-ordinator Steve Leahy said a king tide in excess of two metres was expected to hit the north coast between 9.30am and 10.30am.

"It's going to be one of the biggest in a long time," Mr Leahy said.

"We are going to see a large amount of water coming up and covering sand dunes and rock ledges which we haven't seen in a while.

"When these waves go back out to sea is when we are going to be seeing lots of rips and strong currents. Large waves will be breaking much closer to shore."

Mr Leahy said lifeguards in northern NSW would be on their "highest level of alert" today and would be making decisions about beach closures throughout the morning.

"We are not going to be seeing tsunami-like conditions or anything, it just means the waves are going to be coming a lot closer to shore," he said.

"I don't think it will be at the level that the beaches will be closed, but that decision is always made based on the conditions at the time." Tides across the entire east coast of Australia will be about 50cm higher than usual, with scientists saying it could be a glimpse of what the coastline will look like in 50 years' time.

Mr Leahy said north coast surf lifeguards had already performed a number of rescues during the weekend's king tides. "We are seeing quite hazardous surf conditions at the moment and some very busy beaches," he said.

Across the state border, Gold Coast surf lifesavers are also warning of flash rips on beaches due to the combination of king tides and big seas.

Like Mr Leahy, Surf Life Saving Queensland duty officer on the Gold Coast, Kevin Dunn, said the surf had lapped at grassed areas above beaches and the huge amounts of water involved had to rush back out to sea and could carry swimmers with them.

A man and woman had to be rescued off Miami Beach after their jet-ski overturned yesterday.

A further 18 people had to be rescued from the surf at Gold Coast beaches on Saturday. Mr Dunn urged people to swim between the flags, but said even then the flash rips could form quickly.

"Even if you're in between the flags you need to be aware of your own capabilities," he said.

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