Rogue wave hits California, flooding streets and sweeping people off their feet in Ventura

ByJaysha Patel, Jessica De Nova, Sophie Flay KABC logo
Friday, December 29, 2023
High surf warnings remain in effect after rogue wave hits California
A storm is sending huge waves crashing into coastal California towns, flooding streets and sweeping people off their feet.

VENTURA, Calif. -- Massive surf is bringing danger and destruction to California's coast.

Large waves pounded Southern California's shores on Thursday, leading to flooding on coastal communities and multiple rescues by lifeguards.

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Streets along Ventura's beach communities were coping with several feet of water, leaving multiple vehicles stranded. Lifeguards had to perform multiple rescues, in most cases of people who had gathered to watch the big waves from the sand but were caught up unexpectedly in them, sweeping them off their feet.

One video showed bystanders pulling a lifeguard out of the water with his arms after he apparently became exhausted trying to fight the powerful tow.

Another video showed a massive rogue wave breaching a low wall in Ventura, sending onlookers fleeing and sweeping up several of them in water. Officials say eight people were treated at local hospitals for injuries.

Rogue wave sends people fleeing along Ventura shoreline

A rogue wave hit the beach near Seward Avenue in Ventura, catching onlookers in rushing water. Police say eight people were treated for injuries at local hospitals. (No audio).

In another video, a man went paddleboarding with his daughter along a flooded street.

People who live in affected communities can't recall seeing waves this size, at least in the recent past.

"The waves were big," said Ventura resident Brian Scott. "I mean, I'm a water guy. I sail, scuba dive. These were 15+ foot waves this morning at high tide. Never seen that. We've been here for 10 years."

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A high surf advisory went into effect at 4 a.m. Thursday and will last through 10 p.m. Saturday.

The National Weather Service says some local areas could see waves up to 15 feet high. The Ventura County coast, and Hermosa, Manhattan and Palos Verdes beaches are expected to see the most significant impacts.

The state's central coast is also expected to be hit hard.

Several cars were seen stuck on a flooded street near the beach. Lifeguards were warning people who had gathered to watch the big waves that they needed to move farther back from the water.

In Oxnard, streets near the beach were similarly flooded and several cars were trapped as well. All Oxnard public beaches are closed Friday through Sunday due to the high surf advisory.

Officials say flooding is possible in some low-lying areas.

In Newport Beach, residents were warned about the conditions and sand berms were replenished.

City officials said crews would be monitoring water levels and will pump water out if needed.

Meanwhile, Los Angeles County beachgoers are urged to speak with lifeguards before going into the water.

Despite the advisory, many surfers turned out at Seal Beach ready to catch some waves early Thursday morning.

"Seal Beach is kind of like a stadium. Everyone like's to come here. It's a easy, makeable wave... and everyone loves to be pumped to be here," said Jeff Brockman.