A surfer in Ventura on January 5, 2022.
A surfer in Ventura on January 5, 2022. (Photo: Wally Skalij / Getty)

Huge Waves Are Demolishing California’s Coastline

Massive swells are flooding coastal communities and demolishing coastal structures in Northern California, and making for good surfing further south.

Surfer in Ventura
Wally Skalij / Getty

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As multiple atmospheric rivers pummel the Pacific Coast, Californians have been watching their coastline change shape—and surfers have been hunting down sheltered spots to take advantage of the swell. While the biggest waves came Thursday, the National Weather Service (NWS) extended a high-surf warning, which was originally set to expire at 9 A.M. Friday, to 9 P.M. this evening (though it was downgraded to an advisory).

The NWS warned that waves could be between 15 and 25 feet, but surf forecasting website Surfline reported wave heights up to 35 feet. In Southern California, the storm has produced rideable waves, particularly from Santa Barbara through northern San Diego County. But up north, the weather has mostly wreaked havoc.

In Santa Cruz County, a historic cement ship that has been anchored for nearly 100 years at Seacliff State Beach was taken out by the swell, and the nearby Aptos pier collapsed.


Just up the coast, the popular wharf in the town of Capitola was split in half by a wave.

Flooding—both on the coast and inland—is a major concern with this weather event, and coastal roads and developments have been closed due to high water levels. But, on the plus side, the Sierra snowpack is at a ten-year high.


Lead Photo: Wally Skalij / Getty