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Storm Triggers Huge Waves and Dangerous Conditions at Santa Monica Beaches

Santa Monica Real Estate Company, Roque and Mark

Pacific Park, Santa Monica Pier

Harding Larmore Kutcher & Kozal, LLP  law firm
Harding, Larmore
Kutcher & Kozal, LLP

By Niki Cervantes
Staff Writer

May 6, 2015 -- A recent storm off the coast of New Zealand  triggered huge waves across Southern California beaches, including some waves as  high as eight feet in the waters off Santa Monica. But local conditions were abating on Tuesday, officials said.

A high surf advisory from the National Weather Service also warned  beach-goers to expect powerful rip currents and long-shore currents, as well as some beach erosion during high tides. The conditions “create very dangerous swimming conditions,” the National Weather Service advised.

The advisory was set to end at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, said Los Angeles County Lifeguard Capt. Kenichi Haskett.

Locally, the advisories seemed to be working, with both attendance down at Santa Monica and other Los Angeles County beaches and the number of rescues.

On Santa Monica beaches, there were four rescues over the last few days, said Los Angeles County Lifeguard Capt. Danny Douglas.

He said that number was actually smaller than usual, and he attributed it to the public taking one look at the crashing surf and deciding to take the surf advisories seriously.

Surfers were delighted, but “the less experienced stayed out of the water,” he said.

Haskett agreed. “They(the high waves) probably kept more people out of the water than usual,” he said.

Douglas said the waves reached eight feet in Santa Monica waters Sunday before coming in with less height and force on Monday and Tuesday.

“They’re dropping off right now,” he said.

The storm near New Zealand unleashed punishing waves and rip currents that made their away to the Southern California’s coast over the weekend, prompting  high-surf advisories for Los Angeles County and Orange County beaches, as well as higher-than-usual waves throughout the California coast.

Despite conditions that would seem to be conducive to many rescues, there were also far fewer over the last three days at Los Angeles County beaches in general  than during the same period last year.

 Over the same three days last year, there were  34 rescues compared to 69 this year, authorities said.

The biggest waves were expected Monday and Tuesday, and waves were expected to soar to as high as 15 feet at the Wedge in Newport Beach. Other locations of high surf, the National Weather Service said, were Malibu and Zuma beaches.

For this Sunday and Monday, attendance was 376,000, including 22 rescues at all Los Angeles County beaches. Responses from emergency vehicles totaled 136, Haskett said.

The total number of visitors to Los Angeles County beaches Saturday through Monday was also down -- 674,000 compared to 1.1 million last year. Last year’s numbers were higher, in part, because Cinco de Mayo fell on a Monday -- and a number of people used the holiday for a three-day weekend, Haskett said.

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