Winter storm prompts Imperial Beach closure

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IMPERIAL BEACH, Calif. — Beachgoers are being warned to stay out of the water because of dangerous levels of bacteria from storm runoff.

County health officials are telling residents to avoid contact with ocean water at Imperial Beach during storms and 72 hours after rainfall. A beach closure is in effect from the border to the south end of Seacoast Drive.

FOX 5 found most people were heeding warnings Saturday except for some surfers braving the waves.

“It’s unfortunate,” beachgoer Gloria Rios said. “There’s people still out there. I hope they don’t get sick.”

Officials say urban runoff after rain causes bacteria to rise to dangerous levels in ocean water, especially near storm drains. A contact advisory was issued with residents told to avoid ocean water. 

“It’s understandable that there is some runoff and bacteria all up and down the beach when it rains, but the problems that we have south of the border is what impacts us the most,” resident Chris Herring said.

The beach closure in place from the border to Imperial Beach is in anticipation of sewage-contaminated flows from the Tijuana River entering the U.S.

The winter storm is also causing problems in the mountains. Sunrise Highway was shutdown because of heavy traffic.

Caltrans warns snow chains are required on State Route 70 from Julian to Sunrise Highway as well as Highway 79 from Julian to Descanso.

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