Offshore storms pushed waves towards coastal communities in California, causing flooding and road closures. The powerful waves also caused panic among nearly 20 individuals who were briefly swept away at a Ventura beach on Thursday. Fortunately, eight of them were taken to the hospital for medical attention, according to officials.
The swells will not be limited to a single day as towering waves, reaching heights of up to 30 feet, are expected along the California coast throughout the weekend. These waves will bring with them high water levels and strong rip currents. Coastal flood alerts and high-surf alerts have been issued from the US-Mexico border all the way up to north of the Bay Area.
Waves, along with high tides, caused a deluge of seawater to flood Santa Cruz on the central coast.
The Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Office has issued an evacuation warning for certain areas. The warning specifically applies to an unincorporated area near Seacliff State Beach and Rio Del Mar, as stated in a post on the department’s Facebook page.
The California Highway Patrol Santa Cruz issued a warning about potential coastal flooding at the Rio Del Mar Esplanade. They advised people to stay away from the area to ensure their safety.
Rio Del Mar Esplanade is currently flooded. Please avoid the area. pic.twitter.com/seZbMIAJcF
— Santa Cruz County (@sccounty) December 28, 2023
The authorities issued a warning about the flooded Rio Del Mar Esplanade. They urged people to avoid the area and advised against driving through the flooded areas. It was emphasized that road closures were in effect and should not be disregarded. The message emphasized the importance of caution and safety while driving.
According to a social media post, officials evacuated five campers along the San Luis Obispo coast on Thursday.
Surfers and onlookers were drawn to the spectacular waves, mesmerized by the sheer power of nature.
According to police Cmdr. Ryan Weeks, a Ventura neighborhood near Los Angeles experienced a momentary scare when a large wave breached a beach barrier, sweeping away 15 to 20 onlookers.
Weeks said that the onlookers were swept down the street for a distance of 30 to 50 yards.
#HighSurf – Watch when a rogue wave hits the beach at the end of Seward Ave in the City of Ventura. This occurred during the high surf advisory at high tide. Because of this wave eight people were transported to local hospitals. Currently the beaches are closed in Ventura County… pic.twitter.com/VlRlgRLhpn
— VCFD PIO (@VCFD_PIO) December 29, 2023
The county fire department shared a video of the unexpected wave and the resulting chaos on X. The agency mentioned that the county’s beaches are currently closed. They also mentioned that eight individuals were taken to nearby hospitals due to the impact of the wave.
As a cautionary measure, the authorities closed off the streets in the vicinity and even restricted access to the Ventura Pier, urging people to avoid the area.
Weeks explained that the main objective is to ensure people’s safety by preventing them from being struck by unexpected waves while at the beach.
Residents in the area were seen attempting to clean up the foamy, sandy mess in the aftermath, according to aerial video footage from CNN affiliate KABC.
According to a social media post by the National Weather Service in Los Angeles, the Southern California coast is experiencing large swells, coinciding with the ongoing flooding.
— NWS Los Angeles (@NWSLosAngeles) December 27, 2023
The agency added that one swell at Ventura Pier reached about 20 feet.
The weather service has issued a warning about the dangerous conditions at the beaches this week. They are predicting dangerous surf, life-threatening rip currents, and coastal flooding. The impacts of these conditions are expected to be most severe on Thursday.
According to the agency, the central and Ventura County coasts, as well as Hermosa, Manhattan, and Palos Verdes beaches, are expected to experience the most significant impacts.
The central coast is bracing for potentially damaging coastal flooding as forecasters predict waves reaching heights of 15 to 20 feet.
According to the National Weather Service in Los Angeles, beach conditions are expected to become extremely dangerous starting Thursday morning and continuing through the weekend.
Officials are advising beachgoers to avoid entering the water due to hazardous surf conditions and the presence of potentially life-threatening rip currents. It is also important to be aware that beach erosion may occur.
The weather service issued a warning for significant sea water flooding, particularly in low-lying areas such as beaches and harbors, especially during high tide.
Ocean Beach, near San Diego, attracted a crowd of curious onlookers and surfers who flocked to the beach to soak in the spectacle, as reported by CNN affiliate KGTV.
Only a select few individuals were able to brave the tumultuous waves with their surfboards.
Gerry Giuliano, a friend of mine, invited me to come and see it. As soon as I laid eyes on it, I immediately realized that it was massive and commanding. The fact that it was crashing into the pier was a clear indication of its size. It was closing out and breaking with remarkable speed.
Northern California is anticipated to face its own set of challenges.
The Bay Area is currently under a coastal flood warning until 6 p.m. Thursday. We can expect significant coastal flooding throughout the evening, but conditions are expected to improve after that.
A high-surf warning will remain in effect in the Bay Area until 3 a.m. on Friday.
The National Weather Service has issued a warning about dangerously large breaking waves in several areas. These waves, which are expected to reach heights of 28 to 33 feet and possibly up to 40 feet in certain locations, pose a significant threat to San Francisco, Monterey Bay, Point Reyes, and Big Sur.
According to the Bay Area National Weather Service office, there is a coastal flood advisory in effect until 2 p.m. Friday due to the combination of high surf and potential storm surge. This advisory extends from west of Cloverdale to Big Sur.
An evacuation order was initially issued for a portion of Marin County near San Francisco, but it was later lifted.
In January 2023, a catastrophic storm wreaked havoc on the California coast.
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