DEL MAR — Large swells as a result of a winter storm on Friday led to minor flooding in parts of Del Mar as well as closures of some beach access points after large waves cleared several of the sand berms constructed along the shore.
Seawater that crashed against seawalls around 7 a.m. on Friday led to standing water in the Ocean Front alley, with residents piling sandbags to keep the water at bay, as well as parts of Coast Highway. Beach access points at 18th street were closed.
At Powerhouse Park, a sand berm that previously offered a sloping descent down to the beach was transformed into an 8-foot dropoff, and the beach entrance at the Lifeguard Headquarters was left with a 3-foot dropoff down to the sand.
According to Deputy Chief Lifeguard Mark Rathsam, the fact that the berms are gone rather than the property they were protecting means they did their job. These sand piles are constructed annually in preparation for the winter’s stronger swells.
“Ultimately, we have one storm like this, and they’re gone in a day,” Rathsam said, speaking from headquarters. “We had one wave come through, break, and flood the garage, the parking lot, everything.”
Public Works has been working to move sand from the beach and pile it by the beach access point at headquarters to reconstruct berms. On Friday, several residents making their daily walks down the beach were told to head back in the other direction by city officials while an excavator traveled back and forth from the water.
“Usually I’m walking all the way around Del Mar. Now I’m doing it in reverse,” said resident Arnold Satterthwait. “I’m hearing that there’s record levels of surf and height… you’re seeing the damage now.”
A high surf warning and coastal flood advisory issued by the National Weather Service was in place through the evening of Jan. 6. Del Mar officials said tides in excess of 6 feet are predicted in the mornings through Jan. 8.
However, long-range forecasts predict continued large surf and high tides throughout the month. Waves of up to 10 feet are forecasted for Jan. 11 and Jan. 13 to 16, and a king tide of nearly 7 feet is forecasted for around 8 a.m. on Jan. 21.
Additional rainfall is also forecasted for Jan. 10.