Rising ocean surf could bring coastal flooding to California

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Marcio Jose Sanchez / AP

A surfer rides a wave at Ocean Beach, Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2015, in San Francisco. Very high tides and swell arriving from a Pacific storm will combine to bring the possibility of big surf and minor flooding of low-lying points along parts of California’s coast, the National Weather Service said Tuesday.

Wed, Oct 28, 2015 (12:08 a.m.)

LOS ANGELES — Surfers and lifeguards were keeping their eyes on the sea as forecasters warned of 7- to 13-foot waves and gale-force winds that could cause minor flooding along the Central and Southern California coast.

The National Weather Service issued a coastal flood advisory from Santa Barbara county beaches south through San Diego County. Forecasters said high tides combined with an arriving swell from a Pacific storm could produce big surf through Thursday and even into Friday night in some places.

A gale watch was in effect through Thursday night off the Channel Islands northwest of Los Angeles, with high wind gusts and 10- to 13-foot seas at times.

Low-lying coastal areas could find themselves with minor flooding, especially during morning high tides, the weather service warned.

On Tuesday, however, the waves were no problem. The midmorning high tide of 6.8 feet passed uneventfully at Avalon on Santa Catalina Island south of Los Angeles.

"Pretty boring so far," said J.J. Poindexter, the assistant harbor master. "We had to raise a couple ramps, but that's it. Just precautionary measures, in case any swells come through. But we're not expecting any major problems."

Lessons continued as usual for Banzai Surf School at Huntington Beach.

"The waves are a little bit out of the ordinary, but nothing too big," said owner Jaz Kaner, who noted he'll be watching out for areas along Pacific Coast Highway that typically flood during very high tides.

Seal Beach, which is prone to shoreline flooding, coincidentally started early on creating giant sand berms that protect beachfront property from winter storms.

The berms were going up several weeks early because of the potential for El Nino-spawned storms, not this week's event, said Joe Bailey, the city's marine safety chief.

"We're building it earlier, we're building it wider, we're building it longer, and maybe a just a touch taller" than previous years, he said.

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