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Surf that hit Hawaii now in Calif.; swimmer missing

  • ASSOCIATED PRESS
    A set of waves hit the bottom of the Balboa Pier as High tide comes in and floods beach parking lots near Newport Beach, Calif. Wednesday, Aug. 31, 2011. Bulldozers work to erect a berm to keep the high water away from the boardwalk homes. (AP Photo/Orange County Register, Ken Steinhardt)
  • ASSOCIATED PRESS
    Christopher Castro, 9, of Balboa rides through the high water as Newport Beach, Calif Police keep an eye on flood waters as high tide comes in and floods the parking lot near the Balboa Pier, Wednesday, Aug. 31, 2011. Bulldozers work to erect a berm to keep the high water away from the boardwalk homes. (AP Photo/Orange County Register, Ken Steinhardt)
  • ASSOCIATED PRESS
    Beach goers parked at Balboa Pier navigate high water to get out as high tide comes in and floods the parking lot near the pier in Newport Beach, Wednesday, Aug. 31, 2011. Bulldozers work to erect a berm to keep the high water away from the boardwalk homes. (AP Photo/Orange County Register, Ken Steinhardt)
  • ASSOCIATED PRESS
    Surge breaks the barrier of sand as high tide comes in near the Balboa Pier in Newport Beach, Calif. Wednesday, Aug. 31, 2011. Bulldozers work to erect a berm to keep the high water away from the boardwalk homes. (AP Photo/Orange County Register, Ken Steinhardt)
  • ASSOCIATED PRESS
    Steve Bass navigates the parking lot with his sons Jacob, 10, right and Nick, 8, as high tide comes in and floods the parking lot near the Balboa Pier in Newport Beach, Calif. Wednesday, Aug. 31, 2011. Bulldozers work to erect a berm to keep the high water away from the boardwalk homes. (AP Photo/Orange County Register, Ken Steinhardt)
  • ASSOCIATED PRESS
    Tim Hanes, 25, of Covina plays in the surf while waiting for some big waves at Crystal Cove State Park in California, Tuesday, Aug. 30, 2011. A massive swell is making its way to Orange County beaches this week ? getting surfers excited, but posing a big danger for beachgoers spending the unofficial last days of summer at the coast. (AP Photo/Orange County Register, Jebb Harris)
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SEAL BEACH, Calif. >> The Coast Guard was searching for a swimmer who vanished off this beach community as big waves generated by a winter storm off New Zealand made their way to the central and southern California coast.

(The same storm generated the high surf that has been hitting the south shores of the Hawaiian islands since Sunday.)

The man in his 20s went boogie boarding with three friends late Wednesday afternoon, when the surf was 3 to 5 feet high and rip currents were strong, and didn’t come back to this Orange County beach, police Sgt. Steve Bowles said.

The Coast Guard launched a night search after 25 lifeguards stopped swimming and looking for him after sunset, Bowles said.

The man went missing as a high surf advisory went into effect.

The National Weather Service warned of strong rip currents and breakers averaging 7-to-9 feet for beaches and shoreline from San Luis Obispo to San Diego counties, with south- and southwest-facing beaches expected to have 11-foot-plus waves during high tide around noon Thursday.

The high surf and tide flooded streets and parking lots near the Balboa Pier in Newport Beach Wednesday afternoon, pushing cars up to 5 feet from where they were parked, the Orange County Register reported.

Stuart Seto, a forecaster with the National Weather Service in Oxnard, said the advisory will remain in place until Friday. He said strong rip currents will create hazardous conditions for swimmers. People were urged to stay off jetties or risk being swept away.    

“There may be long intervals between the time peak waves come in,” Seto said. “You may get lulled into thinking everything’s fine, then a big wave comes in.”

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