Making Waves In California

It's Southern California's version of the Christmas blockbuster.

Forget "King Kong." Monster waves storming ashore from Santa Barbara to San Diego are the really big show on the West coast, CBS News correspondent Bill Whitaker reports.

The endless rush of eight to 15-foot waves yesterday drew crowds that could rival any movie theatre. They are dazzling, and dangerous.

"We've made rescues up and down the coastline here in Los Angeles County," lifeguard Garth Canning says. "Again, we have to tell everyone not just 'don't go in the water,' 'watch out even coming close to the edge of the ocean.'"

Despite the warnings, bigger than normal waves and warmer than normal temperatures are proving irresistible to daredevil surfers, even though one surfer drowned.

"Days like that just make you really humble," a surfer says. "At the end of the day you just kind of nurse your wounds."

Surfers may be the stars of this show. But the producer? A powerful winter storm about 1000 miles out there in the Pacific.

By time the waves reach shore, they're packing a punch, washing over breaks, even tearing a chunk out of the Venice Beach pier. This is what you call pier pressure.

The surf is more subdued today, but it's expected to reach spectacular heights again this weekend, which has surfers saying, 'Just try to beat this Christmas rush.'