Heavy swell sends 25-foot waves to San Francisco Bay beaches

Photo of Amy Graff

A boogie boarder rides the high waves at Ocean Beach in San Francisco, California, December 8, 2020.

Douglas Zimmerman / SFGATE

The heavy swells generated by the storms and winds in the Pacific Ocean produced monstrous waves on the beaches of San Francisco Bay, which led the National Weather Service to issue the warning: “Never turn your back on the ocean “.

The weather service issued a high wave advisory in effect until 10 a.m. Wednesday, warning of large breaking waves of up to 20 to 25 feet.

The advisory covers the North Bay coast, including Point Reyes National Seashore, the San Francisco Peninsula coast, San Francisco, Monterey Bay, and the Big Sur Coast.

“Breaking waves can carry people off piers and docks, and into cold and dangerous seas where hypothermia or drowning can occur within a minute,” the weather service warned. “Inexperienced swimmers should stay out of the water due to the dangerous surf conditions.”

In these conditions, waves should rise higher on the beach than they usually do and breaking waves can surprise walkers on the beach.


“The swell is coming from behind the storm,” said weather service meteorologist Jeff Lorber. “This is being created by a lot of activity in the North Pacific. The swells peaked yesterday, but it will be reinforced today by northwesterly winds and this will create dangerous conditions on the beaches.”

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