While El Niño's promised storms have yet to pound Southern California, heavy surf created by the weather phenomenon has been slowly, silently punishing beaches, and hitting San Pedro's Cabrillo Beach especially hard. Over the last few weeks, waves have slammed the beach, "turning it into a mostly rocky shoreline," the Daily Breeze reports. "It's a disaster ... It's washing away," said a member of the Cabrillo Beach Boosters. While it's definitely common for beaches to erode during the winter, this year's El Niño has really whipped the surf up, creating waves sometimes as high as 12 feet and causing extra damage to the shoreline, an LA County lifeguard says. He says that across the county, beaches have experienced "25 to 50 percent erosion since last summer."
Aside from being visually startling, the decrease in beach space might have harmful repercussions for the area. The landmarked Cabrillo Beach Bathhouse is pretty close to the water and has flooded at least once, in the 1980s, when the combination of big waves and heavy rain rolled through. Some are calling for the installation of a berm to protect the bathhouse until a plan for restoring the beach can be put into action. (It wouldn't be the first time: back in 1991, sand was trucked in from El Segundo to fluff up the beach at Cabrillo.) A rep for Councilmember Joe Buscaino, who represents the area, says that they're talking with the Port of LA and the city's Department of Rec and Parks to try to figure out where they can get some more sand to build a berm and prevent even more erosion.
Cabrillo Beach isn't the only LA beach hit hard by erosion: Zuma Beach in Malibu has also been roughed up pretty bad by big El Niño waves this winter. El Niño was supposed to bring a succession of powerful storms to SoCal, but so far has not. Experts are holding strong, saying there's still time for huge storms to show up, but that we need to "be patient."
· What happened to all the sand at San Pedro's Cabrillo Beach? [DB]
· Take a Good Look at LA's Record-Breaking February Heatwave [Curbed LA]