NEWPORT BEACH (CBS) — Massive waves are expected to pummel Southern California’s coast through Sunday.
Friday, officials announced they were closing at least beaches in Orange County because of the high waves. Capistrano Beach’s parking lot in Dana Point was closed because the high surf damaged some steps and part of the wooden boardwalk. Aliso Beach in Laguna Beach was closed because of debris being brought in by the crashing surf.
At The Wedge in Newport Beach, waves averaged 10 to 12 feet Thursday, with some reaching higher than 20 feet.
The Wedge has spectacularly high surf due to a jetty that causes waves to bounce off rocks and back into themselves, adding up to 25 percent more height.
“It just gets real shallow here, it’s two waves coming together, the wave jumps up just twice its size,” said surfer Steve Morgan.
“It’s like the whole washing machine effect. You’re getting upside down underwater and starting to lose your energy, but once you hit the beach it’s like, all right, whew, you’re still alive,” said surfer Spencer Pirdy.
“It reverberates off the rocks and it has a lot of water moving around, a lot of rip currents that just suck you out and keep you in there forever,” Pirdy added. “Yeah, if you don’t know what you’re doing, you’re in a lot of trouble regardless of what luck is on your side.”
A surfer died at the famous spot during a swell there in 2009.
Pirdy said he loves the rush of energy that comes from surfing in waves like these.
“It’s just a rush of adrenaline when you’re making that drop. It’s like nothing else matters, you just wanna make it,” he said.
Those who enter the water – experienced surfers and swimmers – must receive permission from lifeguards. However, when a black flag goes up, surfers and body boarders are no longer allowed in the water.
Thousands have lined the shores of area beaches to get a sight of some of the state’s biggest waves.
“Yesterday we couldn’t believe how big it was, so we had to come back today and try to get here early enough to get a parking place,” said one spectator.
Lifeguards said they did make two rescues on Thursday after two professional surfers needed assistance getting out of the water after they said they were pounded by the waves too hard.
More than 3,000 spectators gathered at The Wedge Thursday, but more onlookers are expected Friday, when the surge returns.