Central Coast could see 12-foot waves Wednesday

A surfer walks back to parking lot north of Pismo Pier on Tuesday as water from an unusually high tide pools on the sand.
A surfer walks back to parking lot north of Pismo Pier on Tuesday as water from an unusually high tide pools on the sand.

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.

Coastal flood advisories were issued for much of the shore from Los Angeles northwest to Santa Barbara and south to San Diego, while high surf advisories were to go into effect Wednesday for the Central Coast.

The high tides were predicted to range up to 6.9 feet, but observations showed they were exceeding that and could rise to near 7.5 feet, the weather service said.

The storm swell heading toward California was expected to produce the highest surf on west- to northwest-facing shores. Forecasters said waves could top 12 feet on the Central Coast, while ranging from 3 feet to 6 feet at beaches to the south.

Tuesday’s midmorning high tide pushed water well up onto the sand at Pismo Beach were it collected in large pools.

At Avalon on Santa Catalina Island, the midmorning high tide of 6.8 feet passed uneventfully.

“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.”

The scene was similar at Santa Barbara.

“The tide is the tide, of course. It’s lifting all boats,” said Mick Kronman, operations manager at the harbor, where little swell was expected.

“We’re keeping an eye out,” he added. “We can relocate boats and protect facilities quickly if we need to. But this is going to be a minor event for us.”

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 when water comes up from storm drains.

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 Niño-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.