Beachgoers are urged to use caution in Southern California this weekend with high tides, rip currents and tall waves expected to pound beaches through Saturday.
The dangerous conditions are expected to linger through Saturday evening in Los Angeles, Orange and Ventura counties, including on Catalina Island, according to a hazard statement from the National Weather Service.
Dangerous rip currents will bring an increased risk of drowning in L.A. and Ventura counties, and big waves will be breaking at around 3 to 6 feet, with some sets reaching 7 feet, forecasters said.
The highest swells are expected on south-facing beaches like Malibu, and minor flooding is possible during high tides, especially in the evening.
“There is an increased risk of ocean drowning,” the weather service said. “Rip currents can pull swimmers and surfers out to sea. Waves can wash people off beaches and rocks, and capsize small boats nearshore.”
In Ventura and L.A. counties, high tides reaching 6.7 feet are expected at 8:30 p.m. Friday and 9:15 p.m. Saturday, while a 4.5-foot high tide is forecast for 10 a.m. Saturday morning, according to NWS.
In Orange County, the risk for rip currents was high, and high tides were expected to reach 6.6 feet through Saturday evening. Waves are forecast to be around 4 to 6 feet, with some sets reaching 7 feet.
Surfers and swimmers are asked to keep out of the water amid the hazardous conditions, and to stay near an occupied lifeguard tower if they do venture in. L.A. County lifeguards reported 106 water rescues for Thursday alone.
“Rock jetties can be deadly in such conditions, stay off the rocks,” the weather service said.
Experts also expect the high tides to bring water into areas it usually doesn’t reach and affect beach erosion.
By Friday afternoon, the waves were washing away a long stretch of Westward Beach Road near Point Dume in Malibu. Chunks of the street could been seen cracking off and slipping away into the sea.
The area was closed off as a result, and deputies were on patrol to keep people out of danger. Public Works crews were working to dump boulders along the beach to fortify the embankment in preparation of rebuilding the roadway.
It’s a “perfect storm” of high tides and a strong southern swell so forceful that it’s able to blast away chunks of roadway, said Chris Frost, chairman of the Malibu Public Safety Commission.
Frost believed more pieces of Westward Beach Road would fall off into the ocean Friday evening, possibly taking down a light pole or two. Public Works officials hope to have the stretch of roadway repaired in two weeks, before Labor Day weekend, which typically draws tourists to the area.