High surf advisories remain in some parts of California, as ocean conditions begin to calm

Dec 30, 2023, 6:51 PM

VENTURA, Calif. (AP) — Southern California’s Ventura County issued a temporary evacuation warning Saturday for some coastal residents due to high surf that pounded the West Coast this week but has begun to calm down.

County officials warned that powerful waves, expected to reach up to 20 feet (6 meters) high, were forecast near a stretch of the Pacific Coast Highway, and the fire department told people to avoid coastal areas. Authorities lifted the evacuation warning in the afternoon.

People who gathered in the morning at Pierpont Beach in the city of Ventura to gaze at the churning waters were warned not to go beyond the large sand berms that were put up Friday to protect waterfront homes, and officials closed some streets.

Ventura Mayor Joe Schroeder called this week’s surf an “extraordinary event,” the likes of which he had not previously seen in his 14 years living in the city.

Fire department spokesperson Andy VanSciver said there were no reports Saturday of damage or injuries but the evacuation warning would remain in place until the waves recede. Earlier in the week, authorities rescued eight people who were injured by the surf.

Elsewhere along the California coast, flooding led to closures of some streets and bike paths. A high surf warning in the San Francisco Bay Area was downgraded to an advisory, with the National Weather Service saying wave heights had declined.

Some surfers took advantage of the waves in Seal Beach, a small city about 30 miles (45 kilometers) south of Los Angeles.

Miles Malohn, a 23-year-old from Irvine who has been surfing for about a decade, said it was one of the largest winter swells he has seen in years.

“It was pretty hectic out there for a few waves,” Malohn said. “You had to be really selective with which ones that you ride so that you don’t end up hurt or wiping out really bad.”


Austin reported from Sacramento, and AP photographer Damian Dovarganes in Seal Beach, California, contributed. Austin is a corps member for The Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues. Follow Austin on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter: @sophieadanna

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High surf advisories remain in some parts of California, as ocean conditions begin to calm