First swell expected Wednesday night, Hazardous beaches expected, officials warn


Every year, around this time local beaches go through some big changes.

The ocean’s waves can be treacherous, unpredictable and can pose a danger.

“The family dog gets in the water, gets caught in the waves, the family member will go out to rescue the dog, and then another family member,” said Craftsman William Phillip Snell. “The dog ends up swimming a shore and four of the people in that family perish.”

That’s a story Snell has heard all too often in the more than 40 years living in Trinidad – and so has Mikayla Collins, she is native to the area.  

“A couple years ago someone at Big Lagoon when in after their dog and they got sucked out, and ended up dying,” she said.

Both say, what tourists need to be aware of, is a particular wave known to the North Coast.

Something tourist Elijah Liedeker learned about through signage throughout state parks in Humboldt.

“I just know that they sneak up on you, and pull you, and can take you in,” said Liedeker.

Snell explains, what a sneaker wave is.  

“A sneaker wave is, I guess is, one that come further up the beach than what you can expect,” he said.

Sneaker waves are random. However Snell says, during the winter and fall season they’re more prevalent. 

Keven Harder is the State Park Ranger Supervisor & Lifeguard for Patrick’s Point State Park.

“What’s particularly important about this current event that’s supposed to show up on Thursday is that’s it’s the first of our season,” he said.

Which means, beach goers have been accustomed to what they’ve seen over the summer, a much calmer and “flater” ocean.

“Then, they’re caught off guard by our first actual set of swell trains that hit the coast,” he said.

This phenomena creates hazardous conditions on beaches and may increase the potential for shoaling.

“Basically the danger with shoaling is, expect the unexpected, if you have experienced of circumstances recently, you’re probably going to see something different in the ocean.”

Harder says there is plenty of information available on water safety that state park personnel are more than happy to provide.

The first significant swell of the season is expected to arrive Wednesday night and Thursday.

More information can be found by clicking here and for weather/ocean conditions click here.