CAPITOLA -- Goodbye frost, hello sunshine.

In the span of a week, low temperatures in the 30s and a freeze warning have transformed into balmy afternoons in the 70s. Similar temperatures are expected through Tuesday in Santa Cruz County.

"It's strange," National Weather Service forecaster Diana Henderson said Friday. "California weather tends to be a bit mild. So that was kind of extreme last week with temperatures almost 20 degrees colder than we normally have," she said.

"We are now several degrees warmer than it normally would be."

The break in the weather coincides with a healthy west-northwest swell and a high surf advisory through Sunday.

On Sunday, the Mavericks Invitational is expected to take place near Half Moon Bay with an anticipated high temperature of 66, according to the weather service.

Surf forecasters expect the waves to be larger in San Mateo County than Santa Cruz in part because the swell must wrap its way to the south-facing breaks of Santa Cruz.

Maverick's, a big-wave reef outside Pillar Point Harbor, can focus long-period swells such as this one, forecasters said. The swell on the Half Moon Bay buoy is projected to be roughly 8 feet at 24 second intervals, according to Stormsurf.com.

Wave faces of 25 feet or more are expected for the contest.

Surline.com predicts other San Mateo County surf spots at 5 to 8 feet Saturday and 8 to 12 feet Sunday. Santa Cruz breaks should be 4 to 6 feet on Saturday and 6 to 10 feet Sunday.

Henderson and other authorities reminded beachgoers to be mindful of the surf and tide and never turn your back on the ocean.

"It's going to be really nice on the coast," Henderson said.

She said part of the reason for the change in weather was the jet stream's shift north. Last week, the jet stream channeled cold air down from Canada to the West Coast.

The sun on Friday brought a few more people than expected to places like the Capitola Wharf.

Melody Scott, manager of the Wharf House Restaurant on the Capitola Wharf, said she anticipated the heat would help draw more customers on Saturday.

"It's beautiful, so we're expecting a lot of people out here," she said.

Follow Sentinel reporter Stephen Baxter on Twitter at Twitter.com/sbaxter_sc

SANTA CRUZ FORECAST


SATURDAY: Sunny. High 68, low 41
SUNDAY: Sunny. High 68, low 40
MONDAY: Sunny. High 69, low 41
TUESDAY: Sunny. High 70, low 41


SOURCE: National Weather Service

IF YOU GO

Mavericks Invitational


WHAT: Mavericks Invitational, a Big Wave World Tour event
WHEN: The first contest heat is expected to go at 8 a.m. Sunday. Festival doors open at 7:45 a.m.
WHERE: The contest itself is held a half mile off shore at the Maverick's break in Princeton-by-the-Sea. The festival, where spectators can view a live surfing broadcast on big screens, will take place on the grounds of the Oceano Hotel & Spa at 280 Capistrano Road, Half Moon Bay. Parking is at the Half Moon Bay Airport, 3850 Cabrillo Highway.
COST: The festival is $10 in advance or $20 at the door. Parking is $15 at the Half Moon Bay Airport.
WHO: Twenty-four professional big wave surfers have been invited to compete, including Tyler Fox, Peter Mel, Kelly Slater, Dave Wassel, Mark Healey, Ken 'Skindog' Collins, Rusty Long, Chris Bertish, Jamie Sterling, Grant Washburn, Shawn Dollar, Nathan Fletcher, Matt Ambrose, Tyler Smith, Ryan Augenstein, Zach Wormhoudt, Shane Dorian, Greg Long, Ryan Seelbach, Alex Martins, Anthony Tashnick, Grant 'Twiggy' Baker, Ben Wilkinson, and Shane Desmond.
ON THE NET: Official site, www.mavericksinvitational.com