Cyclone brings epic waves and power surfers to California

Aug 28, 2014

Waves up to about 20 feet (6 meters) high crashed along the Southern California coast on Wednesday, as heavy and potentially dangerous surf from a Pacific cyclone drew crowds of surfers and spectators to Los Angeles-area beaches. Video: Reuters

Malibu was among the surf breaks seeing oversized sets as large swells generated by Hurricane Marie began pounding the Southern California shoreline on Tuesday last.

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 said.

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 Malibu Pier surfers paddled out amid the heavy surf to position themselves for themselves for the waves that were at times "double-overhead."

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 3 metre waves, with some breakers reaching as high as 6 metres.

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.

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 Vaughan said.


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