Evacuation warning issued as powerful high surf slams California beaches

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Some Californians were placed under evacuation warnings this weekend as the National Weather Service reported flooding and high waves.

The Ventura County Fire Department issued an evacuation warning for residents after the National Weather Service (NWS) in Los Angeles reported waves reaching as high as 20 feet on some beaches.

Since Christmas Day, several areas of the Southern and Central California coast have been under warnings of coastal flooding and high surf. Warnings have fluctuated in the week since, with peak waves and flooding hitting the region on Thursday and Saturday.

Kristan Lund, a meteorologist with the NWS in Los Angeles, told The Independent a system with strong winds off the country’s northern Pacific coast has caused the high waves.

“The winds will create wind waves, and as they travel farther away from the system, we call them swell waves because they’re not only generated by wind, they just keep travelling,” Ms Lund said. “Those waves from that system travelled all the way to us.”

A surfer emerges under the waves in Seal Beach, Calif., Saturday 30 December

(AP)

Eight beachgoers were sent to the hospital on Thursday after a major wave hit California’s Ventura Beach, overriding coastal barriers. Major waves are continuing into Saturday, posing a high risk of injury and damage to property, according to the NWS.

“Powerful waves and strong rip currents will pose an exceptional risk of ocean drowning and damage to coastal structures like piers and jetties,” the NWS reported Saturday. “Large breaking waves can cause injury, wash people off beaches and rocks, and capsize small boats near shore.”

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Ms Lund said a common saying from the NWS — “Never turn your back on the ocean” — is particularly apt this weekend.

“Just because it seems like you’re safe on a pier doesn’t necessarily mean you are,” Ms Lund said. “Bigger waves can come out.”

People run on the edge of the flooded beach next to the pier in Seal Beach, California, Saturday, 30 December 2023

(AP)

While tides will go down throughout Saturday, Ms Lund said residents should continue to stay on guard.

A very large wave breaks near the Ventura pier on Saturday 30 December 2023 in Ventura, Calif.

(AP)

“The beach locations are still very vulnerable and they’re still cleaning up from the damage they’re going through right now,” she said. “We’re likely going to follow the warnings up with any advisory after they expire tonight, so there’s still risk.”

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Evacuation warning issued as powerful high surf slams California beaches

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