Surf's up in the South Bay

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Posted by Max Bottomtime on March 10, 2005 at 17:51:20:

South Bay surf is up and waves can be deadly
Pacific storms drive in waves as big as 10 feet, with even larger ones expected today. Advisory warns of especially big wave potential for Manhattan Beach.
By Sherry Anne Rubiano
Daily Breeze

Texan Jake Grant couldn't believe his luck.

Grant traveled to Southern California this week for spring break to visit his brother at Occidental College in Eagle Rock. On Wednesday, he and a friend dropped by El Porto in Manhattan Beach to ride some California waves.

He was used to Texas waters and was amazed at what he saw.

"It was really big for us," said Grant, 18. "It's the biggest we've surfed in."

Swells of up to 12 feet produced waves as high as 10 feet Wednesday at South Bay beaches. A high surf advisory by the National Weather Service predicted large waves to hit west-facing beaches in Los Angeles, Ventura and southern Santa Barbara counties through tonight.

There is an especially large wave potential for Manhattan Beach, Malibu and Ventura and Channel Island harbors, according to the advisory.

Philip Winchester, 23, wanted to spend his day off surfing. The weather was just right: The sun was peeking out behind some clouds and there was a cool breeze.

But when he arrived at El Porto around 1:30 p.m., he changed his mind. He and a friend decided to watch the waves sitting on the rear bumper of his 1998 white Jeep Cherokee.

"I've lived here for three months," he said. "I haven't seen them this big."

He also said he didn't want to take his chances in the dangerous waters.

"You can't go out there because it's closed off," he said.

The waves didn't curl like they usually do. Instead, they rose and immediately folded over. The waves formed a wall that's hard to ride, surfers said.

Charlie Jeffries came to the beach to see the waves.

Jeffries, a Los Angeles County lifeguard, had heard about the surf advisory on Tuesday.

Jeffries wanted to check it out himself. He walked around the parking lot to get a better view.

"Look at that," he said, pointing to the blue-green water rising toward the shore. "That's an 8-foot wave."

He said the average waves this time of year are about 4 feet.

Capt. Mike Cunningham of the Los Angeles County Lifeguard division said he expects the waves to get even bigger today.

The westerly swell is caused by storms in the north Pacific, Cunningham said.

The storms had hit Hawaii about three days ago and produced large surf. He advises beachgoers to be careful the next few days.

Fishermen should avoid jetties because crashing waves may sweep them into the ocean and only expert surfers should be in the water, he said.

His advice is plain and simple: "If it's too big, don't go in."

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