Tropical storm Marie sends huge waves to Southern California

Tropical storm Marie is expected to spin down to post-tropical cyclone status Thursday night, but its parting gift to California is delighting surfers.

Rob Varela/Ventura County Star/AP
Lifeguards check on two surfers as waves pound the Hueneme beach pier in Port Hueneme, Calif., Wednesday, Aug. 27. Thundering surf spawned by a Pacific hurricane pounded the Southern California coast Wednesday, causing minor flooding in a low-lying beach town, knocking pilings from under the Malibu Pier and drawing daredevil surfers and body-boarders into churning waves as crowds of spectators lined the shore.

High surf generated by a former hurricane in the eastern Pacific rolled onto Southern California beaches again Thursday, showing signs of diminishing but still bringing warnings of possible property damage and dangerous rip currents.

Big breakers chewed away at beaches and provided thrills for surfers, body-boarders, and shoreline crowds.

However, meteorologists said the conditions had peaked and would gradually subside through Friday, with high surf advisories expected to expire that evening.

Tropical storm Marie, downgraded from hurricane status, was spinning more than 800 miles west of Punta Eugenia, Mexico, and was expected to be further downgraded to post-tropical cyclone status Thursday night, according to the US National Hurricane Center.

The storm was moving toward the northwest at about 15 mph with maximum sustained winds dropping to 45 mph.

Surging surf arrived on the Southern California coast late Tuesday and was wildest on Wednesday. Blocks of oceanfront homes flooded in low-lying Seal Beach south of Los Angeles, pilings were knocked off the Malibu Pier and a boatyard on Santa Catalina Island was battered.

Warnings or advisories were posted for hundreds of miles of coastline. The National Weather Service called it the region's most significant southerly swell event since July of 1996.

Lifeguards worked to keep all but the most experienced surfers and swimmers out of the water but still made hundreds of rescues.

Beaches were left with deep gouges and abrupt drop-offs more typical of the aftermath of winter storms than summer.

At scenic Sycamore Cove below the rugged Santa Monica Mountains, waves on Thursday gradually stole remnants of an old lifeguard building known as the Cove House that collapsed into the angry surf overnight.

In Seal Beach, bulldozers were maintaining a high sand berm hastily created to protect shoreline homes and facilities, and the Port of Long Beach resumed operations at two cargo terminals where conditions a day earlier were too dangerous for the loading and unloading of four vessels.

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