Sneaker waves and why you should avoid the beach today and this weekend

Mad River Union

HUMBOLDT – Big, fat ocean swells have spurred the National Weather Service to issue a sneaker wave warning for this afternoon through Sunday.

Wide swells with periods of 20 seconds will build to four to six feet this afternoon, according to the NWS. On Saturday the swells will grow to nine to 11 feet. The large width of the waves provides more energy to push them further ashore, creating sneaker waves that run higher up the beach than people may anticipate.

Sneaker waves can be dangerous at all beaches, particularly those with steep drop offs like Big Lagoon, Freshwater and Patrick’s Point, where people could potentially be washed into deep water within seconds.

So now that you know there’s a sneaker wave warning, what should you do?
Quite simply, don’t go to the beach. Meander around the dunes. Enjoy the beach from the distance. Go hike in the forest. Go to the river and skip rocks.

If, for whatever reason, you must go to the beach, keep your distance from the surf line and keep your eyes on the water. Prepare to run like hell.

Even on a relatively gentle beach like the one in Manila, which is fairly flat with a gradual drop off, sneaker waves do happen and can be surprisingly difficult to anticipate. You can be walking on the beach in the dry sand, far from the surf line, and time goes by and you think you are clearly in a safe zone, and then suddenly the surf rapidly approaches and you need to run. This happens, Seriously. It’s not a joke. There’s a sneaker wave death toll.

On a lighter topic, once the fog lifts today, it’s going to be mostly sunny with a high of 64 degrees. A similar weather pattern continues through the weekend.


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