Focus turns to high surf now that El Niño style storms move east

"The big story today will be the high surf,'' said National Weather Service meteorologist Curt Kaplan, noting surf of 8 to 12 feet is in the forecast, with maximum sets of 16 feet.

The current storm --- the third weather system to hit Southern California this week -- slammed into the Southland late yesterday morning and was dissipating today, with Kaplan saying the next bout of rain should come Saturday.

The coastline, meanwhile, was being battered by what an NWS statement called "very large damaging surf.''

A high surf warning will be in force in Los Angeles County until 4 a.m. Friday, and a coastal flood advisory is due to expire at noon today. NWS forecasters warned that the surf will build to between 10 and 14 feet, with
sets of 16 feet expected this morning.

In Orange County, a high surf warning was in effect until 10 p.m. Friday, and a flash flood watch will be in effect until noon today.

The combination of high astronomical tides, onshore winds and very large surf will cause minor overflow of sea water into low-lying areas today, especially during the times of highest today,'' an NWS statement said.

The NWS blamed the high surf on a series of long-period westerly swells. "A high surf warning means that large and battering surf could damage coastal structures and will make swimming and rock jetties very dangerous,'' a
statement said. It added that swimmers who become trapped in rip currents should swim parallel to shore until able to free themselves.

Three El Nino-caused weather systems hit Southern California this week, including one that slammed into the region late yesterday morning. The next storm is now forecast for Saturday.

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