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Berms go up in Newport Beach ahead of expected high tides

Michael Martinez with the Newport Beach Public Works Department places a sign on a sand berm near Balboa Pier.
Michael Martinez with the Newport Beach Public Works Department places a sign on a sand berm near Balboa Pier on Wednesday. The sand berm is in place to protect coastal properties from high tides.
(Scott Smeltzer / Staff Photographer)

The beach berms are returning to Newport Beach’s coastline as the National Weather Service warns of evening tides anywhere between 7 and 7.5 feet across coastal Orange County.

The notice went out on Tuesday afternoon and is in effect through Thursday.

The National Weather Service warned of minor tidal overflow into low-lying beach areas — such as on the Balboa Peninsula, where streets on the westernmost end of the island are only 5 feet above sea level — boardwalks and parking lots.

Recently, the Newport Beach City Council received a presentation on updates to the 1930s drainage system on Balboa Island to address the issue of flooding.

The peninsula flooded last July and it’s flooded previously in 2018 and 2019, albeit the latter to rainstorms.

A high tide wave crashes below a beach front home in Laguna Beach on Tuesday.
A high tide wave crashes below a beach front home in Laguna Beach on Tuesday. Large swells and nearly 7.0 high tides have combined to batter the coast at sunset time all week.
(Don Leach / Staff Photographer)

Workers were out on Monday with heavy equipment to build up the berms and they were in place by Tuesday, said John Pope, a spokesman for the city of Newport Beach.

“A beach hazards statement is issued when threats such as strong rip currents, elevated surf heights, minor tidal overflow or lightning are possible at local beaches,” the National Weather Service said in its warning, adding that there may be strong currents.

“Obey posted warning signs and flags and talk to a lifeguard before swimming. Use caution when in or near the water and always swim near a lifeguard.”

Brandon LaGrotta, a Newport Beach lifeguard, stands watch at a tower near the Balboa Pier on Wednesday.
Brandon LaGrotta, a Newport Beach lifeguard, stands watch at a tower near the Balboa Pier on Wednesday.
(Scott Smeltzer / Staff Photographer)

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