El Niño finally arrived in the San Francisco Bay Area this winter. The local hills turned green, and reservoirs and creeks were filled from the abundant rainfall. But the accompanying ocean storm surges off the Pacific Ocean pounded the coast, causing the erosion of beachside bluffs all along the San Francisco peninsula, and punching a hole in the seawall fronting the Beach Boulevard Boardwalk in Pacifica, an oceanside community about ten miles south of San Francisco.
Particularly strong El Niño ocean storm surges in late January caused a break in the seawall, and wave action washed out sand and earth from behind the wall and under the adjoining sidewalk, until both the wall and sidewalk eventually collapsed. The area of the breach was fenced off, and a local emergency declared for housing and businesses alongside the ocean. The gap in the seawall was stabilized with rip rap, until repairs can begin when the weather improves.
This was not the first time ocean surges have damaged the boardwalk. Severe storms from the El Niño of 1997-98 also broke down the seawall, and forced the closure of the boardwalk for several months.
Large El Niño storm waves hollowed out the sand and earth from below and behind the seawall, which led to the collapse of over fifty feet of the Boardwalk’s stone and asphalt sidewalk, and eventually the wall itself. Large rocks temporarily fill the hole until the seawall and sidewalk can be repaired this coming summer.
All images were taken by Devon Low on February 15, 2016.