Southern California is seeing the kind of epic surf usually associated with Hawaii or Tahiti. Beaches are thronged with wave riders, and crowds are coming to watch the action even as seaside communities try to stave off damage from the ocean onslaught. A third day of waves spawned by the far-off Hurricane Marie is expected today before calmer waters return. Spectators lined the shore of the Wedge in Newport Beach yesterday, where 20-foot waves were crashing and some of the world's best surfers were riding.
Lifeguards up and down the coast were kept busy making rescues all day and trying to keep anyone out of the water who did not have strong experience. The huge waves also caused damage: Residents along Seal Beach, south of Los Angeles, swept seawater from ground-floor rooms after flooding overnight, and on Santa Catalina Island, a heavy surge sent sand, water, and some 3,000-pound rocks into a boatyard, causing substantial damage and tossing some dry-docked boats off their stand. (Read more Hurricane Marie stories.)