SAN DIEGO – As San Diego County prepares for the next round of rain in a parade of storms, local leaders are warning of high tides and cliff erosion along the coast, meaning our beach communities could be hit hard by the next weather event.
On Wednesday, bulldozers built barricades to prevent flooding, as the city of Del Mar prepares for high tides. Another concern is cliff erosion, an already prevalent issue along the bluffs of Del Mar.
From the shores to the cliffs, high tides and erosion is leaving lifeguards up and down the coast with a warning.
“We’re expecting really large surf. 12 feet to 15 feet plus…Stay away from low-lying coastal areas…when those 15-foot sets come in, they can knock you down and drag you out to sea,” said James Gartland, the Lifeguard Chief with the City of San Diego.
With back-to-back storms, Geologist Dr. Pat Abbott suggests San Diego County’s cliffs are up against three contenders.
“We’re here in the wintertime with big storms, we’re right now at high tides where waves get to the cliffs more, and in the wintertime, we have less sand on the beach,” Abbott said.
In Del Mar, a strong west swell is expected to produce an elevated surf from about 10-13 feet, with sets possibly reaching up to 16 feet.
A dangerous trio, now stirring up concern along the Del Mar Bluffs where erosion is already a core issue along seaside train tracks, shutting down travel and endangering beachgoers.
The bluffs are now entering its fifth phase in the construction of sea walls and drainage ditches installed by the San Diego Association of Governments or SANDAG, preventing erosion at the base of coastal cliffs to safeguard railroad tracks.
“In phase five, we do have significant plans to combat erosion starting at the toe of the bluff from high tides…it does eat away at the bottom portion of the cliff, which then leads to instability at the top of the cliff as well,” shared Alexadra Devaux, the senior engineer with SANDAG.
With high surf, wind and flood advisories and watches in effect beginning Thursday, Abbott is drawing this potential reality of the already susceptible cliffs along the coast.
“The worst-case scenario with heavy rain and cliff collapse is heavy rain spaced apart because the water soaks into the ground, but it soaks very slowly,” Abbott said.