A strong storm surge combined with a 5.6-foot high tide inflicted major damage along the Santa Barbara coast today. Due to the high danger caused by waves that crashed over the end of the Goleta Pier and tide waters that pushed sand and debris into the parking lots at Goleta Beach County Park, the area was evacuated shortly after 10 a.m. and closed to the public.
Along with the flooding, several large sailboats were beached at the park, one of them perilously close to the Beachside Bar Café. Reportedly, another sailboat broke up when it was smashed against the pier pilings. Most of the windows at the Beachside that surround the outside eating area were broken by the waves and the nearby parking area was littered with debris. The pier also appeared to have sustained damage to some of its railings.
Nearby, workers rushed to move several racks of kayaks further inland as the waves hammered away at the shoreline. What had been a gently sloping beach turned into a 6-foot vertical cliff, with slabs of sand calving off into the waves as they hit it, further eroding the beach toward the parking areas. At the west end of the park, the erosion had cut in far enough to expose some of the rock revetment that helps protect the park.
By noon, the tide began to subside along with the damage that was done earlier in the morning. Low tide today is a -0.7 at 3:40 p.m., providing a measure of relief and opportunity for park officials to assess the damage. The next high tide is scheduled for 10:01 p.m., a 4.9 tide, which could cause further damage.
Along the Santa Barbara Harbor area, the Santa Barbara Yacht Club received a brief scare when the heavy surf breached a part of the sand berm ringing the club and boat storage areas. This allowed a series of waves to work their way through an area between the breakwater and the east end of the Yacht Club, depositing several feet of sand along the entrance. The West Beach parking areas were also flooded but the beach itself did not appear to sustain any major damage.
East Beach was also spared major damage, though the volleyball courts and a number of grass areas filled with water. The major impact seemed to be to a number of sailboats that had come loose from their moorings yesterday. Two of them, In the Moment and Walkabout, appeared to be total losses.
There are reports that the Gaviota Pier has received serious damage as well. More on that later.