Giant waves draw visitors, warnings

Visitors traveled tens of miles to be there when swells traveling thousands of miles — whipped up by high-energy storms over the ocean — hit the coast over the weekend.

A high surf advisory issued over the weekend, which remains in effect through at least 10 p.m. Sunday, had the National Weather Service cautioning beachgoers not to stray too close to the water.

The U.S. Coast Guard warned that waves as large as 22 feet could come ashore during the advisory period, and nearly every year there are stories of waves sweeping someone who thought they were safe off the rocks. But despite the violence of the choppy conditions, including gusty winds and two-humans-high waves, many came out to watch wave after wave roll in and slap itself against sand or rock.

People sat in their cars drinking coffee next to the beach while others posted themselves on rocks, away from the action, just to watch.

Most stayed a safe distance back at Rockaway Beach Sunday, although there was one boogie boarder out in the water.

Fremont’s Halden and Renee Meyer came out specifically to check out the waves, although they said they had seen bigger.

“They’re fun to watch — it’s relaxing,” Halden said, echoing a common response among those along the water’s edge.

Jim and Ruth of Concord came for Jim’s 56th birthday and nearly lost a camera as one wave crashed and sent a wall of water at Jim Cameron, soaking the backs of his legs as he turned to escape.

“It’s intriguing,” Ruth Cameron said of the waves. “You’re watching all the shapes and listening to the noise.”

“It’s so peaceful,” she added.

Weekend rains came from a storm front passing through, but the West Coast could have lingering showers through the entire week because of a series of storms headed this way, weather service forecaster Brooke Bingaman said. She asked surfers and beachgoers to be aware of where they are and the spontaneity of the ocean.

“Whenever you have these big winter storms out over the ocean, the winds get really strong and the energy starts pushing the swells inland,” Bingaman said.

dsmith@examiner.com

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