Storm damage: Here's before-and-after look at hardest-hit areas in Capitola, Santa Cruz

ByPamela Parker KGO logo
Tuesday, January 24, 2023
Before-and-after look at hardest-hit areas on Santa Cruz Co. coastline
One of the hardest-hit areas from the devastating bomb cyclone was the Santa Cruz County coastline. Here's a before and after look at the region.

SANTA CRUZ, Calif. (KGO) -- One of the hardest-hit areas from Wednesday's devastating storm was the Santa Cruz County coastline.

Video showed the storm surge destroying a part of the Capitola Wharf and washing up massive logs on Santa Cruz beach.

But to really get a sense of how big the waves were, you need to look at what it normally looks like.

TIMELINE: 'Parade of storms' lined up for Bay Area as bomb cyclone recovery continues

ABC7 News found a few spots in the Santa Cruz area and compared a before shot on Google Maps to the videos gathered during Thursday's epic storm.

SANTA CRUZ - East Cliff Drive

We found this unbelievable video from a house next to Moran Lake Beach. During normal conditions, the water sits about 150 feet from East Cliff Drive.

But in the video from the storm, a massive wave can be seen rolling completely over that 150 feet, going over East Cliff Drive, and flooding into the neighboring Moran Lake.

The home that sits on the Southern part of the beach was also badly damaged, as the wave in the video smashed through the waterfront part of the house, went through the entire home, and came out of the garage.


This iconic Capitola landmark usually stands about 20 feet above the water (depending on the tide) as seen in the before image from Google Maps.

But during the height of the high surf, the tops of the waves were regularly slamming into the upper platform of the wharf.

Ultimately, the powerful waves, destroyed a large section of the wharf, making it unusable and in need of major repairs.

RELATED: From washed-away piers to devastating flooding, here's a look at storm damage around Bay Area

CAPITOLA - Soquel Creek

Before images of this creek, show it calmly flowing into the ocean at Capitola State Beach.

A number of restaurants along the Esplanade look out onto this creek, including Margaritaville, Capitola Bar & Grill, Paradise Beach Grille, and the Sand Bar Capitola.

These restaurants normally sit around 400 feet from the ocean's edge and 5-10 feet above the creek, but the video from Thursday show waves crashing all the way up the creek and washing into and over the outdoor patios of these restaurants.

APTOS PIER - Seacliff State Beach

This pier used to connect to the iconic '"Cement Ship" until the landmark was damaged in previous storms.

Before images of the pier, show that it also stood about 20 feet above the water (depending on the tide).

But videos from Thursday show waves rolling over the top of the pier and ultimately demolishing a huge chunk of the wooden structure.

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