San Diego

King Tides Cause Alarm in Orange County Beachside Community

One beachside community in Orange County got a scare when king tides flooded an electrical box at a home

John Lamping knew exceptionally high tides this week could flood his beachside community of Sunset Beach in Orange County, but he didn't expect it to be this bad.

At the back of his place, the water had already subsided by Wednesday afternoon, except for his electric main. Lamping and others had to shut their power off to prevent an explosion, he said.

"A lot more than expected," Lamping said. "Caught us completely off guard. It was up about six inches and put all the electric underwater."

The National Weather Service forecast that the so-called King Tides, the highest astronomical tides of the year, will be seen in the hours just after dawn until at least Friday. The NWS said the highest level of the week will be Wednesday, with a level of 7.6 feet at 7:51 a.m., followed by 7.5 feet on Thursday at 8:31 a.m., and 7.3 feet at 9:12 a.m. Friday.

Orange County's Seal and Sunset beaches were considered the most susceptible to localized flooding, the NWS said, while La Jolla, Cardiff, Oceanside, South Mission and Imperial beaches were likely to experience some inundation in San Diego County.

A coastal flooding advisory will be in effect in those areas until Friday morning. A similar advisory is also in effect in Los Angeles County, with forecasters saying minor flooding is possible during the morning high tide in areas such as Long Beach, Playa del Rey, Venice and Malibu.

The NWS warned that beach parking lots and nearby streets and structures could be left briefly under water, while stronger rip currents would be present offshore. Affected areas were likely to face more severe issues Wednesday, with on- shore winds and three- to four-foot surf compounding the impact of the higher tide, according to the NWS.

Seal Beach Marine Safety Officer Nick Bolin said sand bags are available at fire stations and lifeguard stations throughout the city if residents wanted to take extra precautions. There were "no major issues" Tuesday in Newport Beach, according to George Murdoch, a co-director of the city's Municipal Operations Department.

The expected tide Tuesday morning was 6.8 feet, but it was actually 8.1 feet, Murdoch said. The surf was "relatively flat" at one to two feet with light winds, he added.

Sunset Beach residents can sound blasé when it comes to high tides and the resulting street floods because they're used to water incursions.

Lamping said neighbors will even talk about King Tides before they arrive, how big they'll be and whether there's need to be alarmed.

Wednesday morning's flooding reached thresholds and lapped at doorways in Sunset, leaving some portions of Pacific Coast Highway closed to traffic as work crews pumped the water back into the ocean.

Cameras captured a man wading in almost knee-deep.

Andy Allen, who runs a kayak and paddle board store nearby, said he may be in the boat business, but the last thing he wants is floodwater inside.

"If we had tides, rain or high surf, it could get really scary," he said.

City News Service contributed to this report.

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