Ocean Beach Pier Reopens After High Surf Led To Closure
A northwest swell churning up big waves — the first of two swells to hit the San Diego County coast this week — prompted lifeguards to close the Ocean Beach Pier Tuesday morning.
It reopened around 3 p.m. after minor repairs to a railing, a San Diego city official said.
"We had some water actually washing through the pier rail," said San Diego lifeguard Sgt. Jon Vipond. "Just very minor damage to the rail, but enough water washing through the pier to be a hazard."
A National Weather Service high surf advisory was in effect amid surf of 5 to 8 feet and local sets to 9 feet along the coastline south of Del Mar. The advisory was to expire at 6 p.m. Tuesday as the swell subsides.
Crowds of spectators lined Ocean Beach, armed with cameras, selfie sticks and video drones.
Mary Williams, visiting from Lopez Island, Washington, was one of the few at Ocean Beach who dared to get into the water.
“Crazy powerful current,” Williams said. “I was trying to stand up and all the water was trying to force me back out. It’s pretty fun.”
Ocean Beach resident Stephen Rowell had taken upward of 150 photos before noon. He said he's been photographing waves by the pier since 1963.
"It’s nice, but you know if you’re out here enough this is just kind of mediocre big waves, “ Rowell said. “Thursday, I hear, is going to be a lot bigger and a lot higher tide.”
A second swell on Thursday is expected to bring similarly large and potentially damaging surf with local sets to 12 feet late Thursday into the weekend.
The elevated surf combined with strong rip currents is expected to cause dangerous swimming conditions. Forecasters said waves may break over jetties and sea walls and minor beach erosion is possible with slight coastal flooding during high tides.
Light scattered showers, snow in areas above 5,000 feet and gusty wind also are expected Thursday into Friday.
"The resulting high surf will combine with strong northwest winds and high tides to threaten coastal flooding and possibly damage coastal structures."
Researchers have warned for months the powerful conditions could become a regular occurrence as El Niño’s storms churn the water and create stronger wave energy.