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Lifeguards Rescue 9 : Sun, High Surf Lure Crowds to Beach

January 15, 1987|TERRY SPENCER | Times Staff Writer

Warm weather and a storm off Hawaii that caused waves more than six feet high brought crowds, surfers and danger to South Bay beaches this week.

More than 60,000 people flocked to the ocean's edge from Rancho Palos Verdes to Manhattan Beach on Sunday, and weekday crowds since then have been larger than usual, according to the South Bay Division of the county Department of Beaches and Harbors.

Enough souls braved the swells and 59-degree water for lifeguards to make nine rescues and post hazard signs warning of riptides and holes.

"We've been warning swimmers not to go out beyond knee deep," said lifeguard Lt. Tom Hargett at the Hermosa Beach station, "and everybody has pretty much taken heed. Even the surfers aren't being too bold.."

No Reported Damage

City officials from throughout the area said they had not received any reports of tide damage to any structures and that beach damage was limited to minor sand erosion.

The rough surf did cause officials to close the aging Manhattan Beach Pier for two hours Monday afternoon.

"When the weather bureau predicted that the water was going to get rougher, I decided to close it down," Lt. Steve Wood of the Manhattan Beach lifeguard station said. "This pier survived the storms of 1983 and I think it could survive another of that intensity. But I'm not here to take that chance."

The 1983 storms, the worst in recent memory, battered the coast with high tides and waves.

Robert Potter, who works at the Roundhouse Marine Studies Center at the end of the pier, said Monday's bashing was worse than an earthquake.

"There's more shaking and rocking," Potter said. "The aquariums splash around and throw out a lot of water." None of the fish at the center were hurt.

Most Stayed Ashore

Wood said most people have stayed out of the water in his area because of the tall breakers, but he said there are always those "who put blinders on and go for a swim, thinking it's just another day at the Mira Costa High Swim Club."

Surfers congregated at Redondo Beach Tuesday, both north and south of the breakwater, pleased but not overly impressed by the conditions.

"It's been OK," said an 18-year surfing veteran who wouldn't give his name because he was playing hooky from work. "The breakers aren't real huge. I wouldn't recommend it, though, for someone who hasn't been a surfer for a long time."

The tides, which peaked on Tuesday, are decreasing. The National Weather Service is predicting surf of three to five feet for today with little change expected Friday.

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