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Storm causes dangers on Calif. coast, roads

January 22, 2010 12:00:00 AM PST
California's winter storm pounded the sandy coastline and also caused hazardous conditions on roads.Dangerous waves pounded the California coastline Friday, and residents are hoping the berms will be strong enough to keep the water away.

Life guard captain Tim Arnold said that he thinks the worst is over as far as any danger to structures, buildings or homes along the coast from the high surf, which is good news.

As far as the weather Friday, it's been cold and raining on and off all day long, but it was replaced by a lot of sunshine by late afternoon.

However, the ocean is still rough and agitated, which is why life guards continue to urge surfers and swimmers to stay out of the water.

It was yet another day of choppy, turbulent high surf on the coast, and most surfers heeded the warning of life guards to stay out of the water, except for David Curry.

"Right now, everything is coming together. I've got about an hour to surf and yeah, I just want to get out there," said Curry, a Manhattan Beach resident.

The former life guard turned business man knows conditions are rough and the water is contaminated, but he is determined to take advantage of the 12-foot swells.

"I am concerned about it, but sometimes you have to take the good with the bad. Often times when the surf is good, there are storms and it is a little bit more contaminated," said Curry. "When I get out of the water, I do a saline rinse in my nose. I will rinse my ears out. I try to take some preventative measures."

A small crowd gathered to watch Curry ride the waves on a beach that has been washed away by a week of storms. Elsewhere, concerns about high surf damaging buildings and homes along the coast in Doc Wyler and Playa Del Ray were eased Friday, and spectators continued arriving to see Mother Nature perform.

"The power of nature and when the waves get this big, it's a thing of beauty. I mean where else in the world can you sit here and watch these huge breakers come in and you know, it's just nature in action. It's just absolutely spectacular," described Kevin Souza, Hermosa Beach resident.

The beach erosion has been pretty significant after the storm. After losing at least 100 feet of sand, many hope it will build up again during the summer months.

The storm brought rain to the coast as well a snow to higher regions in California. The popular I-5 Grapevine is open, despite the latest snowfall.

There was a sense of urgency for some motorists at a Cascade gas station. They wanted to fill up fast and get over the Grapevine as quickly as possible, fearing that the rainfall here would turn to snow at the higher elevations.

"We're trying to get there before it closes down. Yesterday, we came over here so we had to go around all the way to 166 because the road was closed," said Cruz Palma, a Bakersfield resident.

"Anxious. I had a choice between fog tomorrow or rain today, but I have to be at court on Monday in Sacramento so I have no choice," said Sam Ballard, another motorist.

At midday in the Valencia area, the rains came often and heavy. For those heading North, the roads were clear, but there was still work being done to clear the snow around the local businesses from Thursday's storm. The fact that I5 is open was a welcome sight for some.

"It was closed yesterday too, so I wasn't able to be here yesterday, so I came today, tying to get back to school," said Marcy Pineda, a Lake Elsinore resident, who added that she was driving extra slowly as precaution for the wet driving conditions.

By the early afternoon, snow fell between Gorman and Frazier Park. It wasn't sticking to the ground so there was no need for the CHP to close down the highway or roads.

Other motorists also said they were decreasing their speeds on the road and being extra cautious.

Though the snow is not falling, partially melted snow on the roadways may freeze to ice with the falling temperatures, so drivers should take caution.