Environment & Science

High surf: Day 3 of big waves expected in Southern California, watch drone video

A lifeguard signals to a surfer near the Malibu Pier during the big swell from Hurricane Marie.
A lifeguard signals to a surfer near the Malibu Pier during the big swell from Hurricane Marie.
Benjamin Brayfield/KPCC

Update 5:08 p.m. Catalina Island cleans up following big waves

Catalina Island is in cleanup mode Thursday, a day after strong waves from Hurricane Marie caused significant damage to its east end. 

Waves tore through the boat yard at Pebbly Beach, upending boats and scattering lumber in the area. 

The island's only laundry business was also badly hit, says Donna Harris with the Catalina Island Chamber of Commerce.

"They've got a lot of gravel right up to it," Harris said. "They had some waves coming in. They have some water damage. They're still assessing some of the damage that they received from the storm surge."

The Avalon Harbor also sustained minor damage.

Harris says the touristy side of the island wasn't affected by the surge. Folks planning to visit for the Labor Day holiday weekend will still be able go boating, kayaking, and do all the regular activities offered at the island.

11:11 a.m. A third day of huge waves, dangerous rip currents and potential flooding is expected in Southern California as the coast feels the effects of Hurricane Marie churning off the Mexican coast, the Associated Press reported. 

The National Weather Service says the biggest surf Thursday will occur in Los Angeles and Ventura counties, with wave sets topping 15 feet in some areas. A high surf advisory is in effect through Friday.

Areas at particular risk for the very large surf are the exposed south to southeast facing shores, such as Port Hueneme and Point Mugu in Ventura County, and Zuma Beach, the Malibu area, and Long Beach through Palos Verdes in Los Angeles County, according to NWS. 

Late Wednesday, a beachside structure in Malibu collapsed after being battered by waves for more than a day, AP reported. The Cove House, used by lifeguards as a home base for decades, had been emptied out after officials became worried about its structural integrity.

A drone video shot Wednesday shows surfers taking advantage of the waves.


The powerful storm surge has damaged piers, overtopped walls, flooded coastal homes and tossed heavy rocks from a seawall onto a road.

"In the last 24 hours we've had over 115 ocean rescues," L.A. County Fire Department Inspector Scott Miller told KPCC Wednesday. "That doesn't take into account the amount of contact and advisal lifeguards have made before people have entered the water."

NWS advises swimmers and inexperienced surfers to stay out of the water through Friday. 


This story has been updated.