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Massive Waves Along the California Coast Have Quieted Down, But Research Says They’ll Be Back

The year 2023 ended in California with concerns over flooding, erosion, and forced evacuations. Massive waves along the coast peaked this past weekend in places like Ventura County, just north of Los Angeles.

Forecasters say waves easily hit 20 feet high, and lives were at risk as occasional waves made their way ashore. Multiple videos captured waves knocking people down and causing some to nearly be swept out into the ocean.

Firefighters asked people living along the Pacific Coast Highway to evacuate as waves from a storm hit areas from Los Angeles to San Francisco. Dozens needed to be rescued, and in Ventura, at least eight people were injured and sent to the hospital.

Emergency officials had to warn people to stay away from the beach, as the massive waves also drew crowds who wanted to see the natural phenomenon. 

Things have since quieted back down as the storm made landfall and headed east, with some minor flooding. 

Unfortunately, experts see events like this as a new normal.

erosion wave
(Source: Mario Tama/Getty Images)

Recent studies on climate change show waves along the West Coast are actually growing. A report from earlier this year says waves, on average, are a foot taller than they were just 50 years ago. The Golden State is already home to massive waves in places like Half Moon Bay, where waves can hit 60 feet high, but in 2019, researchers measured a wave 75 feet tall. Scientists say the planet’s rising temperatures are to blame.

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