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A surfer wipes out from a large wave at Seal Beach on Wednesday, Aug. 27, 2014. / Nick Ut, AP

Big waves and high surf from storms far offshore are walloping both East and West Coasts Wednesday.

In southern California, waves as high as 15 feet from now Tropical Storm Marie are slamming into beaches from Los Angeles to San Diego, a late-summer treat for surfers in search of big waves.

Marie was downgraded from a hurricane to a tropical storm Wednesday afternoon.

It could be be the biggest wave event since 1997, when Hurricane Linda produced monster swells, said Tim Burnham, who's making a documentary about the Wedge, a famed surfing locale in Newport Beach.

"This is the stuff that you dream of: rainbows, unicorns, Southern Hemi swells, hurricane swells," he said as he dried off from a session in the waves on Tuesday.

However, "conditions will be very hazardous for swimmers all along the entire coast with very strong rip and longshore currents occurring through Thursday," the National Weather Service in San Diego warned.

In addition to that, major impacts from the event include the potential for structure damage, significant beach erosion, waves overtopping jetties, and minor coastal flooding during times of high tides, the weather service in Los Angeles reported.

The waves also caused minor flooding in a low-lying beach town and knocked down pilings from under the Malibu Pier.

Heavy seas damaged a boatyard on Catalina Island, throwing vessels onto their sides, and also closed major docks. KTLA-TV reported several hundred people were stuck in the port town of Avalon, Calif., on the island, when most trips of the Catalina Express ferry service to the mainland were halted due to the seas.

Residents of about four blocks of homes along Seal Beach, south of Los Angeles, swept seawater out of ground-floor rooms after flooding overnight.

"This is our worst summer storm and I've been here 42 years," said resident Jerry Rootlieb, who was sweeping out his home on Wednesday.

As of late Wednesday, Tropical Storm Marie was located about 960 miles west of the southern tip of Baja California and had maximum sustained winds of 65 mph.

Eastern Pacific hurricanes such as Marie seldom have much of an impact on the West Coast of the U.S., as they usually move from east to west and away from land, after forming west of Mexico.

No hurricane has hit the California coast since records began, but a tropical storm with 50 mph winds did come ashore at Long Beach on Sept. 25, 1939, killing at least 45 people, the National Hurricane Center reported.

Meanwhile, on the East Coast, waves from Hurricane Cristobal had prompted high surf and beach advisories from southern New England to the mid-Atlantic coast. The advisories will be in effect through Thursday in many areas.

In New Jersey, though the surfing was great Wednesday, the rip currents and large waves were dangerous, warned the weather service, which is warning visitors to stay out of the surf.

Steven Buchun, a 37-year-old surfer who lives in Ocean Township, N.J., called it by far the best surfing for him this summer. He surfed the breakers off the Loch Arbour beach this morning.

"It's great when you have a low amount of people" surfing, he said. "Everybody is letting everybody catch one or two."

As of 5 p.m., 75-mph Hurricane Cristobal was located about 290 miles southeast of Cape Hatteras, N.C., and was moving to the north-northeast at 15 mph.

Contributing: Margaret F. Bonafide and Todd B. Bates, Asbury Park Press; Associated Press



Copyright 2014USAToday

Read the original story: Offshore storms whipping up big waves on both coasts

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