DISASTERS

Southern California sees more big breakers but surf begins to moderate

  • An unidentified surfer gets assistance from a Los Angeles County lifeguard on a watercraft, as heavy waves crash against the pier in Malibu, Calif., Wednesday, Aug. 27, 2014. Southern California beachgoers experienced much higher than normal surf, brought by Hurricane Marie spinning off the coast of Mexico. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)

    An unidentified surfer gets assistance from a Los Angeles County lifeguard on a watercraft, as heavy waves crash against the pier in Malibu, Calif., Wednesday, Aug. 27, 2014. Southern California beachgoers experienced much higher than normal surf, brought by Hurricane Marie spinning off the coast of Mexico. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)  (The Associated Press)

  • Surf watchers are splashed at the pier in Malibu, Calif., Wednesday, Aug. 27, 2014. Southern California beachgoers experienced much higher than normal surf, brought by Hurricane Marie spinning off the coast of Mexico. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)

    Surf watchers are splashed at the pier in Malibu, Calif., Wednesday, Aug. 27, 2014. Southern California beachgoers experienced much higher than normal surf, brought by Hurricane Marie spinning off the coast of Mexico. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)  (The Associated Press)

  • A big wave from Hurricane Marie smashes against the Seal Beach pier in Seal Beach, Calif. on Wednesday, Aug. 27, 2014. The National Weather Service said beaches stretching 100 miles up the Southern California coast would see large waves and rip currents. Swimmers and surfers were urged to be aware of the dangerous conditions. (AP Photo/ Nick Ut )

    A big wave from Hurricane Marie smashes against the Seal Beach pier in Seal Beach, Calif. on Wednesday, Aug. 27, 2014. The National Weather Service said beaches stretching 100 miles up the Southern California coast would see large waves and rip currents. Swimmers and surfers were urged to be aware of the dangerous conditions. (AP Photo/ Nick Ut )  (The Associated Press)

High surf generated by a former hurricane in the eastern Pacific rolled onto Southern California beaches again Thursday, showing signs of diminishing but still bringing warnings of possible property damage and dangerous rip currents.

Big breakers chewed away at beaches and provided thrills for surfers, body-boarders and shoreline crowds.

However, meteorologists said the conditions had peaked and would gradually subside through Friday, with high surf advisories expected to expire that evening.

Tropical Storm Marie, downgraded from hurricane status, was spinning more than 800 miles west of Punta Eugenia, Mexico, and was expected to be further downgraded to post-tropical cyclone status Thursday night, according to the U.S. National Hurricane Center.

The storm was moving toward the northwest at about 15 mph with maximum sustained winds dropping to 45 mph.

Surging surf arrived on the Southern California coast late Tuesday and was wildest on Wednesday. Blocks of oceanfront homes flooded in low-lying Seal Beach south of Los Angeles, pilings were knocked off the Malibu Pier and a boatyard on Santa Catalina Island was battered.

Warnings or advisories were posted for hundreds of miles of coastline. The National Weather Service called it the region's most significant southerly swell event since July of 1996.

Lifeguards worked to keep all but the most experienced surfers and swimmers out of the water but still made hundreds of rescues.

Beaches were left with deep gouges and abrupt drop-offs more typical of the aftermath of winter storms than summer.

At scenic Sycamore Cove below the rugged Santa Monica Mountains, waves on Thursday gradually stole remnants of an old lifeguard building known as the Cove House that collapsed into the angry surf overnight.

In Seal Beach, bulldozers were maintaining a high sand berm hastily created to protect shoreline homes and facilities, and the Port of Long Beach resumed operations at two cargo terminals where conditions a day earlier were too dangerous for the loading and unloading of four vessels.