Rogue wave sends onlookers in California fleeing

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Huge waves pounded California on Thursday, as a big swell generated by storms over the Pacific Ocean pushing toward shorelines caused coastal flooding and prompted evacuation alerts. 

In Ventura, bystander video showed a rogue wave slam into a seawall, sending a crowd of onlookers fleeing inland in panic as the water rushed toward them. Eight people were injured, KETY-TV reported.

Evacuation warnings were issued in coastal Marin County Thursday morning and extended to Santa Cruz County and Capitola Village later in the day. 

Waves could range from 28 to 33 feet, and up to 40 feet at some locations, the National Weather Service said in a flash bulletin, adding that there were reports of flooding in low-lying coastal areas. 

Forecasters urged people to stay off rocks and jetties, and to not turn their backs to the ocean because of the danger of ‘sneaker waves’ – occasional much bigger waves that can run far up the sand and wash someone off a beach. 

Conditions could get worse into the weekend as the storm system moves in from the Pacific, particularly in southern California, where San Diego is expected to see the highest surf on Saturday.

In Ventura, bystander video showed a rogue wave slam into a seawall, sending a crowd of onlookers fleeing inland in panic as the water rushed toward them.

In Ventura, bystander video showed a rogue wave slam into a seawall, sending a crowd of onlookers fleeing inland in panic as the water rushed toward them.

In Ventura, bystander video showed a rogue wave slam into a seawall, sending a crowd of onlookers fleeing inland in panic as the water rushed toward them.

Eight were injured in the incident as huge waves pounded California on Thursday

Eight were injured in the incident as huge waves pounded California on Thursday

Eight were injured in the incident as huge waves pounded California on Thursday

Conditions near San Francisco are expected to improve early on Friday, while Los Angeles is under high surf and coastal flooding advisories until 10pm on Saturday.

‘Everyone should remain out of the water due to life-threatening surf conditions. Stay off of jetties, piers, and other waterside infrastructure,’ the NWS urged.

In Aptos on the north end of Monterey Bay, surf overran the beach on Thursday and swept into a parking lot, leaving the area strewn with debris. 

Local business Venus Spirits Cocktails and Kitchen Beachside posted security camera footage showing waves rushing into the outdoor dining area. 

In a GoFundMe campaign, the owners said that they had not been able to return to the business to assess the damage, and were still recovering from similar flooding nearly one year ago. 

‘Mother Nature’s angry,’ said Eve Krammer, an Aptos resident for several years. ‘I mean these waves are gnarly. They’re huge.’

The same area was battered by the ocean last January as the West Coast was slammed by numerous atmospheric rivers.

‘I feel for the people that are down low here,’ said Jeff Howard, also an Aptos resident.

A storm system is seen moving toward the Pacific Coast on Thursday, generating huge waves

A storm system is seen moving toward the Pacific Coast on Thursday, generating huge waves

A storm system is seen moving toward the Pacific Coast on Thursday, generating huge waves

Coastal flood warnings and high surf advisories are in place in Ventura County, CA for the remainder of the week

Coastal flood warnings and high surf advisories are in place in Ventura County, CA for the remainder of the week

Coastal flood warnings and high surf advisories are in place in Ventura County, CA for the remainder of the week

The streets are flooded in Capitola, Calif., Thursday, Dec. 28, 2023. Powerful surf is rolling onto beaches on the West Coast and Hawaii as a big swell generated by the stormy Pacific Ocean pushes toward shorelines. (AP Photo/Nic Coury)

The streets are flooded in Capitola, Calif., Thursday, Dec. 28, 2023. Powerful surf is rolling onto beaches on the West Coast and Hawaii as a big swell generated by the stormy Pacific Ocean pushes toward shorelines. (AP Photo/Nic Coury)

The streets are flooded in Capitola, Calif., Thursday, Dec. 28, 2023. Powerful surf is rolling onto beaches on the West Coast and Hawaii as a big swell generated by the stormy Pacific Ocean pushes toward shorelines. (AP Photo/Nic Coury)

The streets are flooded in Capitola, California on Thursday. Powerful surf is rolling onto beaches on the West Coast and Hawaii as a big swell generated by the stormy Pacific Ocean pushes toward shorelines

The streets are flooded in Capitola, California on Thursday. Powerful surf is rolling onto beaches on the West Coast and Hawaii as a big swell generated by the stormy Pacific Ocean pushes toward shorelines

The streets are flooded in Capitola, California on Thursday. Powerful surf is rolling onto beaches on the West Coast and Hawaii as a big swell generated by the stormy Pacific Ocean pushes toward shorelines

Storm debris in the Rio Del Mar neighborhood of Aptos on Thursday after storm-powered waves caused flooding

Storm debris in the Rio Del Mar neighborhood of Aptos on Thursday after storm-powered waves caused flooding

Storm debris in the Rio Del Mar neighborhood of Aptos on Thursday after storm-powered waves caused flooding

A man carries a woman through storm debris in the Rio Del Mar neighborhood of Aptos after the area was flooded

A man carries a woman through storm debris in the Rio Del Mar neighborhood of Aptos after the area was flooded

A man carries a woman through storm debris in the Rio Del Mar neighborhood of Aptos after the area was flooded

While not quite as huge, the waves along Southern California were also described as hazardous, with life-threatening rip currents. Nonetheless, surfers couldn’t resist.

Patience was key, according to Alex Buford, 27, who was catching waves just north of Manhattan Beach on the Los Angeles County coast.

‘I was waiting for awhile because the waves were really sick, and they’re kinda hard to get into even though I have a really big board,’ he said. ‘Just waited for a good one and I got it and it was a long one. Pretty big. It was sick.’

In Hawaii, the weather service forecast surf rising to 30 to 40 feet along north-facing shores and 18 to 22 feet along west-facing shores of five islands.

Professional Hawaii surfer Sheldon Paishon was getting ready to surf Thursday morning at Makaha, a world-famous surfing beach on Oahu´s west side.

Paishon, 30, has been surfing at various spots around Oahu this week, taking advantage of waves during this week´s high surf warning in effect till Friday morning.

‘It´s always big waves in the winter time in Hawaii,’ he said.

Large waves crash near Capitola, which was under an evacuation warning due to coastal flooding

Large waves crash near Capitola, which was under an evacuation warning due to coastal flooding

Large waves crash near Capitola, which was under an evacuation warning due to coastal flooding

Crews worked to clear the damage in Ventura even as more powerful storms and rain move toward the coast

Crews worked to clear the damage in Ventura even as more powerful storms and rain move toward the coast

Crews worked to clear the damage in Ventura even as more powerful storms and rain move toward the coast 

Coastal flood warnings and high surf advisories are in place in Ventura County, CA for the remainder of the week

Coastal flood warnings and high surf advisories are in place in Ventura County, CA for the remainder of the week

Coastal flood warnings and high surf advisories are in place in Ventura County, CA for the remainder of the week

A utility worker runs from incoming water while inspecting downed power lines at The Venetian motel in Capitola

A utility worker runs from incoming water while inspecting downed power lines at The Venetian motel in Capitola

A utility worker runs from incoming water while inspecting downed power lines at The Venetian motel in Capitola

Waves splash under a house in Stinson Beach, which was under an evacuation warning on Thursday

Waves splash under a house in Stinson Beach, which was under an evacuation warning on Thursday

Waves splash under a house in Stinson Beach, which was under an evacuation warning on Thursday

A beachgoer standing on a sand berm watches high surf near Manhattan Beach, California on Thursday

A beachgoer standing on a sand berm watches high surf near Manhattan Beach, California on Thursday

A beachgoer standing on a sand berm watches high surf near Manhattan Beach, California on Thursday

He warned that novice surfers should check with lifeguards before heading into the water and ‘make sure you got some people around you and stay safe.’

Honolulu Ocean Safety lifeguards, posted at beaches across Oahu, rescued 20 people along the island´s famed North Shore on Wednesday, said spokesperson Shayne Enright. They were also busy with thousands of ‘preventative actions,’ she said.

‘This time of year produces incredible surf but it can also be very dangerous,’ she said.

The dangerous surf could also cause surges that could hit coastal properties and roadways, the weather service warned.

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Rogue wave sends onlookers in California fleeing

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