UPDATE: Sneaker Wave Warning Issued (with Video)


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The Eureka office of the National Weather Service is warning about a danger of sneaker waves today into Thursday morning, according to an updated beach hazard statement.

A long-period, west-northwesterly swell is ushering in the threat of the waves, which can suddenly rush up the shore after an interlude of calm, catching beachgoers by surprise, sometimes with tragic results.

Some beaches along Humboldt’s notoriously hazardous coastline — those that are flat and have easy access to higher ground — are less dangerous than steep shorelines but the cold water at each makes survival difficult for anyone carried out by the surf.

The NWS also reminds those headed to the coast that “normally dry locations such as jetties and rocks may be overtopped by periodically larger breaking waves. Remember to never turn your back on the ocean.”

Last January, Marcella Ogata-Day caught this dramatic video (see below) of how dangerous sneaker waves can be while checking out the King Tides in Trinidad, which was posted on the Redwood Coast Tsunami Work Group Facebook page. (Note: Those caught up in the wave were able to make it to safety.)

Others have lost their lives, including three members of a local family who were caught up in the surf at Big Lagoon Beach on Thanksgiving Day in 2012. Arcata High School student Gregory "Geddie" Kuljian has never been found. His father Howard Kuljian and his mother Mary Elena Scott died that day.

In March of 2019, a Bay Area man visiting the area with his family died on his birthday when he was hit by a sneaker wave north of Luffenholtz Beach near Trinidad.

And less than a year earlier, Humboldt State University student Key’Maan Stringer — who had overcome adversity to make his way to college — was hit by a wave at the North Jetty in October of 2018 while trying to free a fishing line. His body has never been recovered.

"Potential sneaker waves may create locally hazardous conditions at area beaches," the NWS statement reads. "Steep beaches will have a higher risk of sneaker wave activity with greater wave run-up onto beaches."


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