Waves up to about 6m high crashed along the Southern
California coast as heavy and potentially dangerous surf from
a Pacific cyclone drew crowds of surfers and spectators to
Los Angeles-area beaches, officials say.
Large swells generated by Hurricane Marie began hitting the
Southern California shore on Tuesday (local time), causing
coastal flooding in the Orange County town of Seal Beach
after dark that inundated garages of 30 coastal homes.
Marie was downgraded on Wednesday to a tropical storm as it
moved north some 900 miles off Mexico's Baja Peninsula,
veering away from the West Coast but still causing extreme
surf, National Weather Service weather specialist Stuart Ceto
Waves from the storm were the largest seen in Southern
California since a pair of hurricanes swept through the
Pacific within weeks of each other in 1997, he said.
At Will Rogers State Beach just south of Malibu, parking
spots were filled as surfers scrambled out of their cars and
paddled out into the ocean to brave the tall waves.
"If you don't know what you're doing, you can very easily get
messed up very quickly," said surfer Luis Abrishamian, 32.
Meteorologists said some of the biggest swells were hitting
the Wedge, a popular body-boarding spot in Newport Beach that
was seeing a steady onslaught of 3m-high waves, with some
breakers reaching as high as 6m.
Several thousand spectators gathered near the Wedge to watch
the large waves, town spokeswoman Tara Finnegan said.
One body surfer who suffered a minor injury there on
Wednesday had to be rescued by lifeguards in a boat, and
inexperienced swimmers and surfers have been advised to stay
out of the water, she said.
Los Angeles County lifeguards issued the same warnings and
ordered curiosity seekers to stay off jetties and
breakwaters. Farther north at Port Hueneme in Ventura County,
waves crested at 4.5m, and breakers the same height were
likely occurring along beaches elsewhere in Ventura and Los
Angeles counties, Ceto said.
Large waves from Marie were likely to reach their peak on
Wednesday, though the unusually large surf was expected to
continue into Friday, he said.
The storm also disrupted ferry service between Los
Angeles-area ports and the picturesque resort island of Santa
Catalina, forcing the Catalina Express to cancel 10
departures on Wednesday after the island's main dock was
closed due to high surf, ferry company executive Elaine