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Daily Pilot

Officials: We're lucky conditions weren't worse

A portion of the Balboa Peninsula flooded, bringing a few skimboarders to the streets as the water got pumped out.

By Bradley Zint

3:30 PM PST, December 13, 2012

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Newport Beach city workers kept busy Thursday morning, pumping out stormwater that had accumulated on the Balboa Peninsula.

Along Newport Boulevard between 21st and 26th streets, one lane was closed down for about an hour as crews diverted the water from the street into the harbor, but not before a group of neighbors dropped by to try their hand at skimboarding the nearly 1-foot-deep puddles.

No property damage was reported on the peninsula or on Balboa Island, said Mike Pisani, Newport's deputy municipal operations director.

It was fortunate that there was no wind and that it stopped raining about 4 a.m., he said. Otherwise conditions would've been worse for handling the situation.

"We got lucky on that front," he said.

For Newport's lifeguards, it was a relatively calm morning, said Capt. Josh Van Egmond. There wasn't the combination for strong surf and surge.

"We were fortunate that we didn't have too much of either," he said.

Newport, as well as the rest of the coast, has been susceptible Wednesday through Friday to king tides, some of the largest of the year.

Thursday's tide peaked about 8:15 a.m., Pisani said.

In Sunset Beach, a 1.3-mile stretch of Pacific Coast Highway was closed for more than two hours after the high tides and rainfall.

King tides — which are not affected by climate change — happen when "the gravitational pull of the sun and the moon are in alignment," according to the California King Tides Initiative, which since 2010 has documented the tides and any changes in the state's coastline and ecosystems.

"King tides tend to be more dramatic in the winter when storms cause increased wind and wave activity along the coast," according to the initiative's website.

The last king tides were Nov. 13 to 15, according to the initiative. The next are predicted for Jan. 9 to 11 and Feb. 7 to 9.

"Obviously we care because there's a lot at stake here," said Pamela Crouch, director of communications with Orange County Coastkeeper, a Costa Mesa-based nonprofit. "There are lot of people who might be displaced, you have the environment and you have property damage."

Natural areas, such as wetlands, she said, can act as buffers and must be protected accordingly.

— Staff Writer Andrew Shortall also contributed to this report.

bradley.zint@latimes.com

Twitter: @bradleyzint