Television news reports showed ankle-deep water on some streets in the Sunset Beach area near Huntington Harbour shortly after a morning high tide of over 7 feet.
No homes were flooded and there were no major traffic tie-ups, even though water spilling from the harbor submerged one lane of the Pacific Coast Highway, a major Orange County coastal route.
Newport Beach also had some roadway flooding on Friday, but no damage to homes, and the tidal flow from the bay was lower, city spokeswoman Tara Finnigan said.
"It peaked at around 8 feet," she said. "Yesterday it peaked here at about 8 feet, 4 inches ... Things are moving in the right direction."
The highest tide of the year struck California on Thursday morning but proved to be more of a nuisance than a threat.
Bruce DuAmarell, an 18-year Sunset Beach resident, said he got a call at work from an alarmed neighbor and came home.
"There were four to five inches in my garage," he said, as he took a break from sweeping water onto the street. "It came up over the seawall and literally filled up the harbor."
DuAmarell said he lost a vacuum cleaner and some Christmas presents for his children, but otherwise was unscathed.
The worst damage Thursday was just north of San Francisco, where the tide swamped a commuter parking lot in Marin City and seeped into dozens of cars.
King tides occur several times a year when the Earth, moon and sun align in a way that increases gravitational pull on oceans, raising water levels several feet above normal high tides. The non-scientific term also refers to extremely low tides.
Residents of Sunset Beach had expected Thursday’s flooding but that didn’t keep 13-year resident Fred Grether out of trouble.
He tried to drive his 2004 Porsche to a car wash to rinse off the salt water after the flooding reached the rims and undercarriage. But driving to the car wash did more damage than staying put, he said as a tow truck prepared to haul his car to the shop.
"I didn’t realize how deep it was at the intersection and as soon as I got to the intersection, I heard this frizzling noise and my car alarm started going off and I realized that I had burned out the electrical system on my car," he said.
"Now I’m off to my local mechanic today about me doing something very, very stupid," said Grether, who’s seen flooding three times.
The tide at Marin City reached 7 feet, slightly higher than during last December’s king tides, which prompted the California Highway Patrol to temporarily close a highway connector ramp due to roadway flooding midmorning.
The tides reached over 10 feet in Redwood City, a bit above predicted levels, the National Weather Service said.
The event provided organizers of the California King Tides Initiative an opportunity to get California residents thinking about and preparing for the future.
The 3-year-old initiative, sponsored by government and nonprofit groups, enlists camera-toting volunteers to photograph the King Tides as an illustration of what low-lying coastal areas could look like if predicted sea level rises caused by climate change come to pass.
Leff reported from San Francisco. Los Angeles science writer Alicia Chang contributed to this report.