Well, winter is most definitely here. Rain, hail, snow, strong winds and waves nearing 30 feet shook the Humboldt County coastline this week.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has issued several hazard warnings throughout the week, such as a hazardous seas warning, a winter storm warning for Northern Trinity County and winter weather advisory in Eastern Trinity County.
The entrance to Humboldt Bay was closed to any and all inbound and outbound vessels due to the high surf on Jan. 18. It opened the following morning, according to the Humboldt County Office of Emergency Services.
“The ocean is the earth’s largest wilderness, but it’s clearly more wild here in Humboldt,” ecological restoration student at HSU Gabe Roletti said.
The Humboldt County coastline and much of the Pacific Northwest are lined with trees and steep beaches, unlike Southern California’s gentle, broad beaches. The average water temperatures here in Humboldt are also much cooler.
“SoCal is mellow and a little underwhelming,” Southern California native and HSU environmental science student Mike Leone said. He said that in Humboldt, he feels “more surrounded by crazy elements of nature like the big waves and wind.”
Despite cold, unforgiving conditions, to go or not to go is not the question for some outdoor enthusiasts, but rather to, “Go big or go home,” local resident and surfer Greg Masessa said.
Jokes aside, Masessa said that in reality, he really doesn’t put much thought into surfing behemoth waves. He just surfs, because it makes him happy.
In order to practice reasonable precaution during swells like these, Masessa said that he surveys the conditions before going out and will often surf in a more sheltered area, such as a protected cove.
A small craft advisory is in effect through late tonight, according to NOAA. A gale warning is in effect from late tonight through Saturday morning. We should be seeing hazardous seas throughout the week.
Therefore, it’s especially important for all beachgoers to remain vigilant and practice caution when in or near large surf. In addition, beachgoers should always remain aware of sneaker waves.
View the graphic below for basic information on sneaker wave safety: